The Vegas Golden Knights ended their five-game road trip on a high note with an overtime victory in Dallas over the Stars. The Golden Knights secured five of 10 points to salvage the trip. “You know, the old 500 on the road. We expect to be a lot more than 500 on the road. We’re a good hockey club. But for this trip, that’s how it ends.” Coach Bruce Cassidy on ending the road trip with five points.
It has been a good first 20 games for the Golden Knights. There have been no signs of a Stanley Cup hangover or localized Vegas Flu for the team. Last season’s Stanley Cup victory created motivation to repeat and valuable lessons for the Golden Knights. “We have a resilient group. We know what it takes to win. We are going to have to win games in different ways.” Mark Stone after last week’s victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
If the regular season ended today; the Golden Knights would win the Pacific Division, have home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, and have home-ice in the Stanley Cup Final over all teams besides the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. That is a start that Golden Knights fans can be proud of.
First stars: Jack Eichel and William Karlsson. It is splitting hairs trying to determine who has greater value to the team through the first 2o games. Both have 20 points in 20 games. Eichel has been the difference maker the Golden Knights have needed him to be. Karlsson is creating matchup nightmares for the opposition and does everything right on the ice. If we have to go to an unofficial tie-breaker to award the first star; Karlsson’s flow > Eichel’s flow.
Second stars: Adin Hill and Logan Thompson. The tandem has combined for a 14-4-2 record, 2.40 GA/G, and .927 SV%. More importantly, both goalies are healthy. Coach Cassidy has done a great job at managing each goalie’s workload. Hill has started twelve games compared to eight games for Thompson. Vegas Hockey Now’s Chris Gawlik asked Cassidy about the goalie rotation prior to the road trip. “No, we are right on schedule.” We are going on this trip, it’s going to be a split.” Cassidy was referencing the first four games of the five-game road trip that takes the team to Washington, Montreal, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
Third stars: Coach Cassidy and general manager Kelly McCrimmon. Cassidy has been able to ice a healthy lineup just twice this season. Adjusting forward lines during the games, making the right choice between Brayden Pachal, Kaedan Korczak, and Ben Hutton, and properly managing the goalie rotation; coach Cassidy is spinning all the right dials. Coach Cassidy runs an upbeat practice that the players enjoy while having a healthy respect for the work that needs to be done.
It has been a while since the #McCrimmoPlan was referenced. The #McCrimmoPlan is why Cassidy has had the right reinforcements to choose from. The Golden Knights have forward reinforcements in Pavel Dorofeyev and Jonas Rondbjerg. Brendan Brisson is knocking on the door of being an NHL player. Grigori Denisenko was a waiver claim by McCrimmon just prior to the start of the season. Denisenko has 17 points (7 goals) in 16 games for the Henderson Silver Knights and could end up playing for the Golden Knights down the line. Hutton, Korczak, and Pachal have helped in the absence of the regular defensemen.
Injuries have bent, but not broke the Golden Knights through the first 20 games. Alec Martinez, Nicolas Hague, Nicolas Roy, and Zach Whitecloud have all missed six or more games this season. On a positive side; Stone has played every game this season and showed no signs of back issues. Hill and Thompson look healthy and fresh.
Ivan Barbashev has just six points (4 goals) through the first 20 games. It just is not clicking for Barbashev this season from a statistical perspective. On the positive side, Eichel has 20 points (8 goals) and Marchessault has 14 points (9 goals). Barbashev does get some credit for the numbers that Eichel and Marchessault are putting up. Barbashev is a plus-5 compared to the plus-2 of Eichel and Marchessault. That says that Barbashev is playing a responsible game on both ends of the ice.