Although the Las Vegas Golden Knights aren’t the dominant, Pacific Division winning squad of last season who set expansion team records in almost every category. The Golden Knights are still proving to the league that they are not merely a one hit wonder.
After a surprising trip to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year, the Golden Knights got off to a rough start in their second season as a franchise. The Golden Knights went 8-11-1 in their first 20 games and were close to the bottom of the Western Conference according to Hockey Reference.
Despite this, the Golden Knights have weathered the storm and are starting to look more like the team who turned countless heads in the season prior. The Golden Knights are currently 7-2-1 in their last 10 contests and now occupy the final wildcard spot in the West with 38 points and a 18-14-2 record.
Team wise, the Golden Knights have improved statistically as well, especially in the defensive end. At the moment, the Golden Knights have the sixth best penalty kill in the league at 83.2 percent according to NHL.con. In addition, the Golden Knights are tied for first with the Carolina Hurricanes in least amount of shots allowed per game with 27.9 according to NHL.com.
Player wise, it’s the same forwards as last season who are leading the Golden Knights on the score sheet. Both William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault have 26 points through 34 games.
In addition, Max Pacioretty, who was acquired over the offseason from the Montréal Canadiens for Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick according to Sportsnet Canada. Has been heating up recently with 15 tallies in his last 14 contests.
In terms of goaltending, net minder Marc-Andre Fleury has been one of the biggest stars and game savers for Golden Knights this year. Fleury has won all 18 contests for the Golden Knights which is the most victories of any goalie in the league so far. The 34-year-old also has the most shutouts of any goaltender with five.
Needless to say, the Golden Knights have had their fair share of hardships this season. Before the start of the 2018-2019 year, defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was a key piece of the Golden Knight’s back end with 36 points in 76 contests last year. Was charged with the use of performance enhancing substances and suspended for the first 20 games of season according to NHL.com.
On top of that, forward Erik Haula, who had a solid 55 tallies in 76 contests last year. Has been on the injured reverse for 19 games now.
With that being said, the Golden Knights have received some offensive reinforcements with the recent return of new free agent acquisition Paul Stastny who missed the first 30 games of the 2018-2019 season with a lower-body injury according to Sporting News.
The Golden Knights encountered zero growing pains during their inaugural season. So it’s only natural for them to endure a couple in the second year of the team’s existence.
If the Golden Knights can leap over the hurdles and propel themselves into the playoffs for a second straight year. It would be a solid accomplishment for the young franchise.