When the Vegas Golden Knights saw the team’s schedule for this season, I’m willing to bet there were more than a few smiles in the front office. While no game in the NHL is a guarantee, the way the schedule breaks down for the VGK to start the season favors them jumping out to a lead that will be tough to overtake in the Honda West Division.
Looking at the first six games, it’s easy to see how the Golden Knights could potentially win all of them. Opening with a pair against the struggling Anaheim Ducks followed by four against an Arizona Coyotes team that will still be figuring out its new identity this season. the Golden Knights have it comparatively easy. Consider the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche, the two best teams in the division outside of Nevada, face each other twice right away.
After those six games, a pair with St. Louis could yield a split. So let’s call it 7-1 at that point. After that, six more games against the bottom-dwelling California teams. Vegas will play two each against the San Jose Sharks, LA Kings and Ducks once more.
I’m not saying things always go perfectly. They often don’t. But it is possible that before the Golden Knights play four in a row against the Colorado Avalanche a month from now, they could potentially be 13-1, 12-2 or something resembling that mark. No other team in the HWD has that type of chance to jump out in front and Vegas needs to capitalize.
Here’s the other advantage for Vegas in starting with six games against perceptibly weaker opponents: the ability to lock in. Line combinations, defensive groupings, special teams. All the things you take time on in pre-season games. All things that every other NHL team didn’t have a chance to do because we had no pre-season. Vegas is fortunate to have those games on the schedule right away to dial things in just a little bit more over the course of two weeks of games.
If the VGK capitalize and get off to a fast start, there’s no way anyone in the HWD will catch them.