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Pacific Division Standings

Golden Knights Playoff Update: First Round Opponent Still Unsettled



Vegas Golden Knights Game, Win over Vancouver Canucks

The Vegas Golden Knights are in the NHL playoffs, but have no certainty with regard to which opponent they will face in the first round.

Wins by Nashville and Los Angeles Saturday did make it more difficult for the Golden Knights to move up in the standings. The Predators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 to increase their lead over Vegas for the first wild card spot and the Kings beat Anaheim 3-1 to raise their lead to three points for third place in the Pacific Division.

Here are possible scenarios:

Vegas stays as the No. 8 seed

If Vegas doesn’t catch Nashville or Los Angeles, the Golden Knights stay where they are.  A Nashville win in its final game or a Vegas loss in one of its three remaining games (Colorado, Chicago and Anaheim), the Golden Knights can’t catch Nashville. If the Kings win one of their two remaining games (Minnesota and Chicago), the Golden Knights would have to win all three remaining games to move past them into third place in the Pacific Division. The most likely scenario is Vegas staying at No. 8.

If the Golden Knights stay at No. 8, their likely opponent is the Dallas Stars. They have 111 points with one game left. The Vancouver Canucks are at 107 with two games left. The Canucks have the tiebreaker (regulation wins). Hence, if Vancouver wins its final two games and the Stars lose their last game, the Canucks would be the No. 1 seed in the West. They would play the Golden Knights.

Shot at third place

If the Kings win their last two games, Vegas can’t catch them. The Kings losing one game in regulation and winning one means Vegas has to win three games to move past them. If the Kings lose both of their final games, the Golden Knights can move past them with four points in their final three games. The Kings have the tiebreaker.

If the Golden Knights finish third, they would probably play the Edmonton Oilers. But the Oilers have a long-shot chance to catch the Canucks. But if the Canucks earn one point in their last two games, they close out the Oilers.

Finishing No. 7 Possible, Not Likely

If the Golden Knights win all three games, they would finish at 100 points. The Predators, currently boasting 99, would need to earn one point in their final game against the Pittsburgh Penguins to hold their place because they have the tiebreaker. That game could be meaningful to the Penguins, depending upon how the Eastern Conference unfolds.

If Vegas earns the first wild card position, it will likely face the Canucks, but it could still be the Dallas Stars or even the Oilers.

Interestingly enough, the Stars, Canucks and Oilers all have similar records. The Canucks the worst record of late, but the Golden Knights lost to them less than a week ago. Vegas is actually 3-0 against Dallas this season, but the last time they faced each other was December. The Stars are 8-2 in their last 10.

If you ask the Golden Knights which team they would rather face, they would say it doesn’t matter. First, Mark Stone‘s return will make them a different team.  Second, what they learned last year is that comparing regular-season records and results doesn’t matter. To win the Stanley Cup, you must beat four good teams. It doesn’t matter which talent-laden team you have to face first.