We are almost 20% through the regular season schedule for the Vegas Golden Knights The team currently sits out of a playoff spot. But don’t panic, we still have a long ride ahead of us. The Golden Knights have battled hard amidst their injuries and have stayed afloat with top guys out of the lineup.
But missing the Stanley Cup playoffs would be considered a failure to the Golden Knights. Just look at general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s recent trades. Jack Eichel is a Vegas Golden Knight and the team is in win-now mode.
The main problem for the Golden Knights in terms of division standings this season has been other teams playing better than expected. One of these teams is the Anaheim Ducks, who currently sit first in the Pacific Division standings with 23 points. They are showing no signs of slowing down and have been a surprise team for many this NHL season.
The Pacific Division has been given a reputation as the “easiest” division in the NHL. But the terminology that I would use would be “wide-open.” Entering this season many people projected the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights to battle it out for the top of the division.
Instead, we have seen the rise of all three California teams in the standings. The Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Los Angeles Kings have all put together a mixture of youth and veteran leadership and are simply winning games.
No team is doing it better than the Ducks, who have won eight straight.
The Ducks are being led by a fifth-round draft pick in Troy Terry who has 21 points in 16 games. He is on pace for 107 points this season as a 24-year old NHL’er. Ryan Getzlaf may not be the same player he once was but is providing the veteran leadership the young Ducks need. He has 18 points in 17 games.
Trevor Zegras, Isac Lundestrom, and Jaime Drysdale have also emerged as young stars for the team. Add that to veterans like Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, and an elite goaltender in John Gibson and you have what appears to be a playoff team.
What does this mean for the Vegas Golden Knights?
The Golden Knights and Ducks have only met once so far this season and the Golden Knights won in the shootout. They will play each other three more this season. For both teams, these matchups will be huge four-point games.
If the Ducks continue their trend and march towards the playoffs that takes up a spot in the Pacific Division playoff picture. All signs are pointing towards the Edmonton Oilers to occupy a spot as well.
The Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks are also in the hunt for the remaining two playoff spots. The Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to qualifying for the playoffs. With the Ducks now appearing to be a playoff team, the Golden Knights will have an even harder time making the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Golden Knights have never met the Ducks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the fight, for now, is to gain as many points as possible in the regular season for the Vegas Golden Knights.
And just like that, the Pacific Division is one of the toughest in the NHL again.