Four prerequisites for the Golden Knights to miss the qualifiers

(Image source: photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday we looked at Four prerequisites that had to happen for Golden Knights to win the degree. Today, we do the opposite. Here’s what needs to happen until things go wrong in Vegas and see them miss the playoffs again.

Jack Eichel leads all positions in goals for every 60 in equal power

Last year, Eichel led the team with the fewest goals for 60. Eichel finished slightly better than William Karlsson, and all other regular VGK positions, while wearing the VGK uniform. However, the last seven matches Eshel almost broke the lead as he was on the ice for seven goals against a stretch, mostly in games lost by the Golden Knights.

If Eichel takes the step forward defensively that Bruce Cassidy and the entire VGK organization hope, it will completely change the way they configure the way they can use their lines. Carlson will no longer have to play the heaviest defensive minutes, and Eshel will likely team up with Mark Stone in defensive zone draws against opposing top lines, something Cassidy is likely to avoid early in the season.

That doesn’t mean Eichel needs to switch to Selke’s candidate, or anything close, but if he doesn’t become a credible defensive option, the rest of the squad will struggle to make up the shortfall.

Mark Stone, Jack Eshel, William Carlson, Riley Smith, Jonathan Marchesault, Alex Petrangelo and Shea Theodore combined in under 150 goals

Simply put, the Golden Knights are not as deep as the Recording Division. They absolutely need their big guns to contribute the majority of the attack, both in equal power and in force play. 30 goals in all of the Big Five is a lot to ask, but when you add in in attack from Pietrangelo and Theodore, there’s no reason why a healthy group can’t reach that number.

The key is to get contributions from all of them, which is a great way of saying they all need to be healthy. If they lose 20 goals from Marchessault, it would take 40 seasons for both Stone and Eichel to get this team to where they want to go.

Last year, this group of seven scored 108 goals while losing 146 games between them. If they are healthy, they will be 150. If not, then beware.

No VGK goalkeeper ranks 15th on the ‘Percentage Save’, ‘Goals vs Average’ or ‘GSAA’ list

Admittedly, this is a bit of a displacement because it’s fairly obvious if a team has a below average goalkeeper, it means they allow a lot of goals, which of course means they don’t win matches. However, what I’m trying to say here is that if the Golden Knights don’t find a decent player in the NHL, they’re going to have a hard time.

Think back to the team’s history. When they have a goalkeeper who plays at an elite level, they easily become a 100+ team (year one when Florey came back, season two late season, year three bubble, all year four, early year five), but when they get a goal Average or worse (beginning of year 1, most of year 2 and 3, late year 5), they struggle hard to keep a point in every game. Again, no surprise in the NHL, but for VGK fans, good goalkeepers were almost taken for granted during Fleury’s and Lehner’s healthy era.

If the Golden Knights were constantly scrolling through their goalkeepers trying to find one that could turn the tide, they would have a hard time stringing the win together. If one finds out, even long enough to land in the middle of the league, they have plenty of firepower to win enough games to reach the playoffs.

Finishing the Golden Knights less than 0.650 percentage points against the Pacific Division

One of the essential elements of Vegas hockey since entering the NHL has been their dominance of the Pacific Division. From sweeping the Sharks in eight games in 2020 to beating Anaheim 20 of the 24 times the two teams have met, the Golden Knights have always racked up points in indoor division matches.

The division is a mixed bag this year with a number of teams expected to compete (CGY/EDM/LAK/VAN) but also a group of two (SEA/SJS) or three (ANA) that may still focus on the future. There will be a lot of points to take in these games and the golden knights must take them.

Despite missing the playoffs a year ago, VGK finished by 673 percentage points against Pacific. That left them running at almost one point in every game against everyone else, and that just wasn’t enough. If they can collect a few extra points against the top of the division, they will be able to slash and fight their way up against the middle and east enough to qualify for the tournament.