Vegas Golden Knights
Record: 39-24-8, 86 points
Playoff position: First place in Pacific Division, three points ahead of Edmonton Oilers
The Golden Knights have continued to pursue the Stanley Cup aggressively in their third season in the NHL.
After making the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season and returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, they fired coach Gerard Gallant on Jan. 15 even though they were in a playoff spot at the time.
More Golden Knights season snapshot coverage: Awards | Fantasy honors | Memorable moments
Gallant’s replacement? Peter DeBoer, the former coach of the San Jose Sharks who was fired on Dec. 11 and came back from down 3-1 in the series and 3-0 in the third period of Game 7 against the Golden Knights in the 2019 Western Conference First Round.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon said the move was made “for our team to reach its full potential,” believing DeBoer can “help us achieve our ultimate goal.”
The Golden Knights had lost four straight games before the change and went 4-3-2 in their first nine games afterward. Since then, they have gone 11-2-0 and have acquired defenseman Alec Martinez (from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 19) and goalie Robin Lehner (in a three-team trade with Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24).
The Golden Knights’ leading scorers are two forwards they got in trades last season to bolster their Cup chances.
Video: Season Snapshot: Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 9, 2018, leads Vegas with 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games, which equates to 76 points (37 goals, 39 assists) over an 82-game season. That would be an NHL career high for the 31-year-old, who is healthy and more comfortable in his second season with his new team.
Mark Stone, acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 25, 2019, leads the Golden Knights in points per game (0.97) and their forwards in average ice time (19:25), playing against top competition in all situations. He had 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 65 games through Feb. 26 before sustaining a lower-body injury and was week to week when the season was paused.
Behind Pacioretty and Stone are three of the original “Golden Misfits”: forwards Reilly Smith (54 points; 27 goals, 27 assists), Jonathan Marchessault (47 points; 22 goals, 25 assists) and William Karlsson (46 points; 15 goals, 31 assists).
Shea Theodore: The 24-year-old defenseman already has set NHL career highs in goals (13), assists (33) and points (46), and has averaged 22:14 of ice time per game, almost two minutes more than his career best from a season ago (20:21). He’s on pace for 15 goals, 38 assists and 53 points over an 82-game season. The Golden Knights have controlled 58.5 percent of shot attempts when he has been on the ice at 5-on-5. Theodore, who is plus-12 this season after he was minus-4 last season, has been outstanding since Dec. 13, with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 37 games.
Video: Top 10 Golden Knights Plays … Thus Far
Golden Knights 4, Sharks 1, Oct. 2: In the season opener, the Golden Knights faced the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season in heartbreaking fashion. Stone and Smith gave Vegas a 2-0 lead 5:21 into the first period. Smith finished with two goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves in the victory.
Video: Smith scores twice, leads Golden Knights past Sharks
Most compelling game
Golden Knights 6, St. Louis Blues 5 (OT), Feb. 13: Marchessault scored his second goal of the game in overtime after the Golden Knights came back from down 4-2 in the second period and 5-4 in the third, sparking an eight-game winning streak. Zach Sanford scored four goals, and Jordan Binnington made 46 saves for the Blues, who were playing for the first time since defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had a cardiac episode on the bench in a game at the Anaheim Ducks two days earlier.
Video: Marchessault, Pacioretty each score twice in OT win
Vegas Golden Knights