Prior to the start of the 2021 NHL season, Vegas Hockey Now’s Tom Callahan took a look at the potential for the Vegas Golden Knights to really get out to a good start. In fact, possibly get out to a start so hot they could run away early. This year since the season has 56 games in total, each quarter consists of 14 games. So looking back now how accurate were we?
Callahan wrote that he felt the Vegas Golden Knights had the potential to start 10-2 or even 12-2 because of the way the schedule looked. Keep in mind, all of these predictions were based on the schedule as it was before we knew the Golden Knights would have some games postponed and deal with COVID-19 issues.
The start of the schedule was two games against the Anaheim Ducks and four in a row against the Arizona Coyotes. Knowing it’s tough to beat any team four straight times, Callahan still went for the best possible record of 6-0 against a pair of teams that really struggled last season.
The only real test on the original road map were the next two games against the St. Louis Blues. As it turns out, one of the two scheduled games against the Blues was postponed for COVID-19. A potential split of the two games was predicted originally.
That would put Vegas at a 7-1 start.
Afterwards it was supposed to be six games against the California teams, with two each against the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. With all three teams also looking like weak sisters again this year, Callahan said it’s possible to go 5-1 (or even 6-0) through this part of the schedule.
That would have marked the first 14 games of the season for the Golden Knights and showed potential for an incredible 12-2 start.
Of course, that’s not quite how the schedule has played out. Thanks to COVID-19 games against the Blues and Sharks were lost, putting the first two games of the current Colorado Avalanche series into the mix. Let’s take a look at how things have really gone.
In the first six games, Vegas faced the Anaheim Ducks twice and the Arizona Coyotes four times. As was stated earlier, it is tough to beat any team four straight times. As if right on cue, the Coyotes handed the Golden Knights the team’s only regulation loss in January as Vegas opened the season 5-1.
What was supposed to be the first real test of the season was a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues, but only the front half of that was played as Vegas managed a shootout point. With a 5-1-1 record to start the season, things still looked good.
Then, following the game, the Golden Knights were placed on pause because of COVID-19 issues and did not play again until February 5th. When they did return, they would do so without Alex Pietrangelo in the lineup.
When Vegas finally got back to game action, the next five games lined up favorably for the VGK with two against the Kings and Ducks, and one instead of two against San Jose. After taking care of business in San Jose and winning three-of-four in SoCal, the Golden Knights were now 9-2-1 to start the season.
Even looking back to the original prediction, we knew the first really hard stretch would be this four-game series against the Colorado Avalanche, a pre-season Stanley Cup favorite for many. With the first two games moved into the mix, Vegas split with the Avs and heading into the weekend are at 10-3-1.
How We Did:
Well, the prediction of being able to run away with the division early and have everyone chasing the Golden Knights hasn’t quite come to fruition. Part of that is due to the COVID-19 ramifications. Part is due to Colorado quickly righting the ship after a bumpy start. St. Louis has played more games and based on points sits atop the standings in the Honda West Division. So Vegas, despite a very good start, is still mired in with the Avalanche and Blues a quarter of the way into the season.v
But when it comes to the record, we were pretty close. Vegas has been able to take advantage of a weaker schedule to start and move out to a solid .750 win percentage. That mark is good for first in the division and tied for third in the league with the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning, behind only the Florida Panthers (.786) and Toronto Maple Leafs (.778). Would they have started 12-2, the win percentage would have been a league-leading .857 at this point.
Up next, we will take a look at the next quarter of the season for the Vegas Golden Knights schedule and see just how close we can get.