Last season, the Vegas Golden Knights were the toast of not only the NHL, but the entire sports world.
The expansion team defied odds by being one of the best teams in the league, not only making it into the postseason in their first year, but getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. They came within three wins of winning it all on their very first try.
Fast forward to today, and things are very different. In fact, it is so different that I am sure that many people in the hockey world are wondering last season was a fluke for the boys in Vegas.
At the time of this posting, the Golden Knights are the fourth-worst team in the league as they are just 8-10-1 in 19 games. While they are still just three points out of the top eight in a very tight Western Conference, this year has a much different feel than last season so far.
One problem for the Golden Knights this season has been putting the puck in the net. The team is currently 27th in the league in goals scored with 48 goals in 19 games.
Points-wise, there have not been as many guys contributing this season like they did last team. Right now, the club is led by players like Jonathan Marchessault (15 points), William Karlsson (14 points), Alex Tuch (11 points), and Cody Eakin (10 points).
While that is all well and good, the team is struggling to get offense from either guys who were key contributors last year or guys they brought in this season. Players such as Reilly Smith (seven points), Erik Haula (seven points), Max Pacioretty four points) have all gotten off to extremely slow starts.
Pacioretty’s rough start is certainly not what the Golden Knights and their fans were expecting. Pacioretty has always been a big-time goal scorer and solid point producer, but in his first season with the Knights, he’s been very quiet.
Now, the team’s defense has not been terrible. They are currently (November 15) 16th in the league in goals allowed and have given up 53 goals in 19 games.
Again, this number is not exactly terrible, but it is nowhere close to what it was last season. Last season, the Golden Knights were very stingy and made life very difficult for opponents when it came to generating chances.
Speaking of not being terrible, Golden Knights’ masked man Marc-Andre Fleury has been good, but not great. When you look back at last season, he was the main reason why the team got off to such a great start.
This season, on the other hand, has not been the same for Fleury. Fleury is currently 8-7-1 with a 2.51 goals against shutouts, a .902 save percentage, and three shutouts.
While that shutout number is excellent and the goals against average is pretty solid, it is the low save percentage that is hurting both Fleury and his team right now. Obviously, Fleury needs a lot more help than he is currently getting so once that happens, Fleury’s save percentage should increase.
Again, the Golden Knights have not been terrible this season. They are keeping pace in the tight West and Pacific Division.
With that said, it appears that for the first time in their brief existence, not everything is going right for the Golden Knights. With plenty of hockey left to be played, it will be interesting to see how the club responds.
Photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal