We’ve talked about the Vegas Golden Knights a lot because they’ve been making history as an expansion team.
Saturday saw the club collect its fifth win in a row, as they knocked off the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 4-2. The win marked the second time this season the Golden Knights have won five straight, by the way, and marked the 15th win in 22 games for the team.
That makes Vegas the fastest first-year NHL team in history to reach 15 wins, with the previous record held by the 1926-1927 New York Rangers. It took them 25 games to hit 15 wins.
The Golden Knights seem well on their way to posting a winning record in their inaugural season, which would be another unmatched feat in the National Hockey League. The 1967-1968 Philadelphia Flyers came close, while the Florida Panthers posted 33 wins in their first season in 1993-1994.
What’s funny is that Vegas is not only looking like a team with a winning record, they’re looking like a playoff team.
And sure, one could put together a number of reasons for their success. They’ve been able to pick their own roster due to the expansion draft, people will say. But many teams have had the “luxury” of expansion drafts, like the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000 or the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999.
Atlanta only cobbled together just 14 wins in their first season, while Minnesota had 25. Columbus managed 28 wins.
The NHL’s been holding expansion and dispersal drafts since 1967, in fact, but no other club has entered the league as prepared to win as the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 15-6-1 club is sitting atop the Pacific Division and is moving in direct contrast to the Edmonton Oilers, the team everyone saw running the table to start the 2017-2018 season.
And Vegas has done it while facing the sort of adversity most teams would buckle under, with four goalies seeing significant starts. Franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has started just four games this season, while Maxime Lagace has five wins. Malcolm Subban has four wins and Oscar Dansk has three.
24-year-old William Karlsson leads the Golden Knights in scoring with 22 points in 22 games, including 13 goals. Jonathan Marchessault has 21 points in 19 games, including eight goals, while James Neal is piling it on with 19 points in 22 games.
So, with all the pieces in place for a historic season, could we see Vegas in the post-season? My answer is a definitive yes. The Golden Knights are, for all intents and purposes, a playoff team.