National Hockey League

Pacific Division Preview: Vegas Golden Knights

nhl8VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS: TEAM LOOK-AHEAD
The Golden Knights enter their third campaign with a cumulative record of 94-56-14 in 164 regular-season games. Only three franchises have required less than 200 games to reach 100 victories in the regular season, with each entering the League in 1917-18: the original Ottawa Senators (165 GP), Montreal Canadiens (183 GP) and Toronto Maple Leafs (190 GP).

Vegas has held a top-three position in the Pacific Division for 79% of their time in the League (296 of 374 days of regular-season play). Since divisions were first introduced in 1926-27, only two NHL franchises have finished among the top three in their division in at least each of their first three seasons: the New York Rangers (American Division; 1926-27) and St. Louis Blues (West Division; 1967-68).

Vegas will aim to become the fourth team in NHL history to make the playoffs in each of its first three seasons; the only clubs to do so, with their consecutive playoff appearances and inaugural season noted in parentheses: Edmonton Oilers (13; 1979-80), Rangers (9; 1926-27) and Blues (6; 1967-68).

SEASON-OPENING STATS
* Marc-Andre Fleury has won his team’s first game of the season nine times in his career (14 GP), tied for the second-most season-opening wins in NHL history behind Curtis Joseph (10-2-0 in 13 GP) and Martin Brodeur (10-5-3 in 18 GP). Fleury also has two season-opening shutouts, tied for second-most all time behind Glenn Hall (3 in 11 GP) and Jacques Plante (3 in 12 GP).

* Paul Stastny has 8-6—14 in 13 career season-openers, the third-most such goals and fourth-most such points (tied) among active NHL players.

* The Golden Knights have won their first road game in each of their two NHL seasons – their inaugural game at Dallas in 2017-18 and their first road game of 2018-19 at Minnesota. Only three clubs in NHL history have won their first road game in each of their first three seasons in the League: the New York Rangers (7; 1926-27—1932-33), Montreal Canadiens (3; 1917-18—1919-20) and New York Americans (3; 1925-26—1927-28).

* Overall, Vegas is one of five teams to win its first road game in each of the past two or more seasons. The Golden Knights will factor in two of the streaks noted in the attached PDF as they open the 2019-20 campaign with a home-and-home against the Sharks.

* Following their season-opening home-and-home, Vegas will have played nine consecutive regular-season/playoff games against San Jose. Only three other teams in NHL history have contested nine straight regular-season/playoff games against the same opponent: Colorado against Minnesota (7 in 2014 Playoffs, 2 in 2014-15), Ottawa against Toronto (7 in 2004 Playoffs, 2 in 2005-06) and Toronto against Detroit (3 in 1942-43, 6 in 1943 Playoffs). Vegas also plays its final preseason game against San Jose.

OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK
* William Karlsson (67-67—134 in 164 GP) enters the 2019-20 campaign tied with Jonathan Marchessault (52-82—134 in 159 GP) for the most career regular-season points for the Vegas franchise. Karlsson is the only player to skate in every game in Golden Knights history, lacing up for all 164 regular season games (the only player to do so) and all 27 playoff contests (one of nine to do so).

* Alex Tuch posted career highs in goals, assists and points last season (20-32—52 in 74 GP) thanks in part to a 10% increase in his TOI/GP, going from an average of 15:15 in 2017-18 to 16:44 in 2018-19. His average time on ice placed him among the top six forwards who spent the entire campaign with Vegas.

* Vegas carried a balanced attack en route to a 13th-place rank in goals last season (249; tied), with their leading scorer (Marchessault) finishing with 59 points – the lowest such total among playoff teams and fourth-lowest in the League overall (ARI: 47, ANA: 48 and NJD: 50).

* The Golden Knights now enter their first full season with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny, all additions since the end of their inaugural campaign. Vegas is 10-3-0 in 13 regular-season games with all three players in the lineup, with the trio combining for 14-19—33 in those contests – just two points more than they had in seven playoff games together (see attached PDF for details).

THE FUTURE IS NOW
* After playing the entire 2018-19 regular-season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and helping the club reach the Calder Cup Final, 20-year-old Nicolas Hague will look to make the jump to the NHL. Hague tied for second in regular-season goals among AHL rookie defensemen in 2018-19, totaling 13 goals in 75 games to trail only Dylan Coghlan – another Vegas prospect.

* Twenty-two-year-old blueliner Zach Whitecloud had the best plus-minus (+39) of any AHL skater in the 2018-19 regular-season. Whitecloud proceeded to share the team lead with 15 points during Chicago’s run to the Calder Cup Final (3-12—15 in 22 GP), tying three others including fellow AHL rookie Cody Glass (7-8—15 in 22 GP) – the franchise’s first-ever draft pick (6th overall in 2017).

* Whitecloud made his NHL debut on April 5, 2018 at age 21 years, 128 days, the youngest skater ever to play for the Golden Knights (goaltender Dylan Ferguson logged 9:14 on Nov. 14, 2017 at age 19 years, 55 days). Tuch is the only other player to skate for Vegas at age 21 or younger, notching 1-1—2 in his team debut on Oct. 15, 2017 at age 21 years, 158 days.

BETWEEN THE PIPES
* Marc-Andre Fleury enters his 16th NHL season with the eighth-most wins in League history, six back of tying Terry Sawchuk for seventh place all-time.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
A look at how players have dared historically in their debut game/season with the franchise:

First game with the Golden Knights. . .
SKATERS
Most goals:  2 (James Neal on Oct. 6, 2017 and Brandon Pirri on Apr. 3, 2018)
Most assists:  1 (6x; last: Jimmy Schuldt on Apr. 6, 2019)
Most points:  1 (3x; last: Brandon Pirri on Apr. 3, 2018)

DEFENSEMEN
Most goals:  N/A
Most assists:  1 (4x; last: Jimmy Schuldt on Apr. 6, 2019)
Most points:  1 (4x; last: Jimmy Schuldt on Apr. 6, 2019)

GOALTENDERS
Most saves:  45 (Marc-Andre Fleury on Oct. 6, 2017)
Shutout: N/A

First season with the Golden Knights . . .
SKATERS
Most goals:  43 (William Karlsson in 2017-18)
Most assists:  50 (David Perron in 2017-18)
Most points: 78 (William Karlsson in 2017-18)

DEFENSEMEN
Most goals:  10 (Colin Miller in 2017-18)
Most assists: 31 (Nate Schmidt in 2017-18 and Colin Miller in 2017-18)
Most points:  41 (Colin Miller in 2017-18)

GOALTENDERS
Most wins:  29 (Marc-Andre Fleury in 2017-18)
Most Shutouts: 4 (Marc-Andre Fleury in 2017-18)

— NHL Public Relations

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