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Vegas Golden Knights

Division Roundup: Kraken Threaten VGK, Petersen Waived, and Markstrom’s Comments

Over the past couple of seasons, the Pacific Division has had the reputation of being one of the most wide-open divisions in the NHL. Teams…



Over the past couple of seasons, the Pacific Division has had the reputation of being one of the most wide-open divisions in the NHL. Teams coming in and out of the division, strange COVID alignments, and two new expansion teams joining the West have all affected this narrative. But despite all this, the statement of the Pacific Division being wide open still holds up this season.

It's officially December, and we are past the quarter mark in the 2022-23 NHL season. At the beginning of the season, we did a Pacific Division scan on what every team in the division did in the offseason. Now feels like an appropriate time to check in on some of the Golden Knight's rivals, especially given the fact that the team missed out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

The Golden Knights do not play another Pacific Division team until Dec. 27 when they play the LA Kings. 

Vegas Golden Knights

Let's start with a quick recap of where the Golden Knights are at. After a nine game winning streak, the Golden Knights are now 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They are holding onto the lead in the Pacific Division standings by two points over the Seattle Kraken. 

Injuries are starting to arise for the VGK as Nicolas Roy missed three games with lower-body injury and now Brett Howden is on IR. Alex Pietrangelo has also missed the Golden Knights last two games due to personal reasons and this has greatly affected the team's play, especially with breakouts.

Their defensive game that was so strong in the first chunk of the season, is now giving up tons of shots on the young goaltending duo of Logan Thompson and Adin Hill. Additionally, the team's top line of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and Chandler Stephenson are just now coming out of a scoring slump.

The team is also looking for a more consistent third-line, one that is not benched in third periods and not trusted in their own end.

Seattle Kraken

Well would you look at that, the Kraken is attacking.

Playing eerily similar to the way the inaugural Golden Knights played, the Kraken have now won seven-straight games and 12 of their last 14. They are getting scoring from all throughout their lineup with Andre Burakovsky leading the way and rookie Matty Beniers not far behind.

Beniers scored the game-winning goal just seven seconds into overtime against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

They have been an extremely fun team to watch and are firing on all cylinders. In a wide-open Pacific Division, they could sneak into a playoff spot in year two of their existence.

Golden Knight v Kraken So Far: 10/15 5-2 VGK, 11/25 4-2 SEA

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 4/11 @VGK 7:00 p.m., 4/13 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles Kings

After making the playoffs last season, the LA Kings look to be taking the next step in their rise back to the top after their re-tool. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick continue to contribute and newer additions of Kevin Fiala, Phillip Danault, and Viktor Arvidsson have been good too.

But the biggest issue surrounding the Kings is goaltender Cal Petersen, who was supposed to be the successor to Quick, signing a three-year $5 million contract in 2021. After the fiasco that was a 9-8 game against the Kraken, Petersen was waived and is now in the AHL with the Ontario Reign.

Still, the Kings are a strong team and are likely headed to a second-straight playoff berth, potentially meeting the VGK in the first round.

Golden Knights v Kings So Far: 10/11 4-3 W

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 12/27 @LAK 7:30 p.m., 1/7 @VGK 7:00 p.m., 4/6 @VGK 7:00 p.m.

Edmonton Oilers

The Golden Knights have struggled recently, yes. But their nine-game winning streak and strong start to the season has given them some cushion in the standings, allowing them to remain first in the division. The same cannot be said about the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, both of which sit out of a top-three spot in the Pacific Division.

For the Oilers it's the same story with a new coat of paint. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are doing all of the scoring. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are helping and Evander Kane was, before his gruesome injury. But after these players the next top scoring forward on the Oilers is Ryan McLeod with eight points (McDavid has 43 points in 24 games).

Goaltending continues to be an issue for the Oilers as well. Jack Campbell was brought in to be the team's new starter, but has seen Stuart Skinner take over his job with his frankly better goaltending.

The Oilers have the potential to be both a Stanley Cup contender and also the potential to miss the playoffs entirely.

Golden Knights v Oilers So Far: 11/19 4-3 OTL

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 1/14 @VGK 7:00 p.m., 3/25 @EDM 7:00 p.m., 3/28 @VGK 7:00 p.m.

Calgary Flames

Similar to the Oilers, the Alberta-based Calgary Flames are struggling, despite being labeled as Stanley Cup Contenders before the start of the season. 

Acquistions both new and old are not meshing well in Calgary. Jonathan Huberdeau is on pace for career-lows in scoring with just 13 points in 20 games. Nazem Kadri has 15 points in 23 games. Goaltender Jakob Markstrom currently has a .899 save percentage and has been very critical of himself.

"I suck right now so I've got to step up," Markstrom said after the Flames most recent loss.

Golden Knights v Flames So Far: 10/18, 3-2 L

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 2/23 @VGK 7:00 p.m., 3/16 @VGK 7:00 p.m., 3/23 @CGY 6:00 p.m.

Vancouver Canucks

Yet another team that could go either way, the Vancouver Canucks have had their struggles this season, but are only five points out of a playoff spot. They continue to blow leads and have constant chatter behind the scenes with rumors of coaching changes, and discrimination allegations.

If the Canucks do decide to pull the plug and sell off some of their assets, Bo Horvat, who is third in the league in goals, and Andrei Kuzmenko, a KHL free agency signing who has 21 points in 23 games, will be great bargaining chips.

Tough news for the Canucks last night too, as they lost starting goaltender Thatcher Demko in a loss to the Florida Panthers.

Golden Knights v Canucks So Far: 11/21 5-4 W, 11/26 5-1 L

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 3/21 @VAN 7:00 p.m.

San Jose Sharks

It doesn't look like playoffs are in the picture for the rebuilding/retooling San Jose Sharks this season. They have just eight wins on the season, and general manager Mike Grier is listening to offers on every player on his team not named Tomas Hertl.

Grier will likely get calls on the prices for James Remer, Alexander Barabanov, Matt Nieto, and Nico Sturm. Even 32 points in 26 games played Erik Karlsson is seemingly for sale as well as pending RFA Timo Meier.

It is safe to say that the Sharks are in contention for 2023 projected no. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard.

Unlike the next team on our list, the Sharks have already stolen points from the Golden Knights this season. Timo Meier embraced his villain role and stole a game from the Golden Knights in mid-November, which started the VGK's current slump. Meier was also the one who essentially ended the Golden Knights playoff hopes last season with a shooutout goal that took away a critical point for the VGK in the standings.

Maybe the Golden Knights trade for Meier so that this doesn't happen again?

Golden Knights v Sharks So Far: 10/25 4-2 VGK, 11/25 5-2 SJS

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 2/16 @VGK 7:00 p.m., 3/30 @SJS 7:30 p.m.

Anaheim Ducks

I think the one stat that sums up how this season has been going for the Anaheim Ducks is that it took them 20 games to get their first regulation win of the season. The Ducks are in full tank mode for Connor Bedard, as the roster they currently have is simply not built for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They have several bright young starts like Trevor Zegras, Mason McTavish, and Jamie Drysdale in their system, but they all still have to develop more.

Look for them to be big sellers at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. John Klingberg, Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, and Derek Grant will all likely be available. 

For the Golden Knights, they need to take advantage and collect the four possible points in their final two matchups against the Ducks. I could also seem them interested in Grant or maybe even Silfverberg.

Golden Knights v Ducks So Far: 10/28 4-0 VGK

Remaining Head-to-Head Schedule: 12/28 @ANA 7:00 p.m., 22/12 @VGK 12:00 p.m.