20 games down for VGK, what’s the synopsis?

Charles LeClair-USA TODAY
The Golden Knights sit at 14-4-2 and remain atop the Western Conference despite a turbulent road trip.

LAS VEGAS–The Knights returned home two nights ago after nearly two weeks on the road. Despite their torrid start to the season, it was a much different story on this road trip. The Knights lost 3 of 5 games on the roadie, including a shutout loss in Pittsburgh and an overtime loss in Philadelphia after splitting the first two games.

It wasn’t all bad for the Knights on their road trip. They ended their turbulent travels with an overtime win in Dallas on Thanksgiving Eve that helped preserve their lead atop the Western Conference.

Still, the margins in the NHL are small enough that this recent slippage by the defending champions could be something to worry about. Before their road trip began, they had already dropped two out of three games. Including that skid, the Knights have won just three of their last eight games.

Despite being a group that prides themselves on their ability to grind out wins in tough circumstances, their lackluster performance across the last few weeks has diminished their ability to even stay in some of the games that they typically grind out with their edge in experience.

While some concern is definitely warranted for these reasons among others, I’m keeping my hand away from the panic button for now. Recent woes aside, their excellent start to the season still has their record at an inflated 14-4-2 to this point. This is good for 30 points, which leads the Western Conference and is short of Boston by just a single point in the early goings of the President’s Trophy race.

A notably fast start by Vancouver this season has the Canucks on the Golden Knights’ tails early in the season and looking like a team that can threaten VGK’s supremacy in the Western Conference come playoff time. With the emergence of one threat comes the demise of another, as Connor McDavid and the Oilers have been one of the worst teams in hockey this season and are a far cry from the playoff race.

Stat book

Opening up the stat book through 20 games this season, there’s not all that many surprises. William Karlsson and Jack Eichel are tied for the team lead in points with 20-a-pop. Karlsson has done it with a team-leading nine goals to go along with 11 assists. Eichel is short by just one in the goal department with eight, but has the edge over Karlsson with 12 assists. Shea Theodore leads the team with 14 assists, making up the lion’s share of his 18 points for the season.

If there was a surprise for the Knights to start the year, it’s the early season emergence of Michael Amadio. Amadio has notched 10 points on the season, but has found himself in the middle of several crucial goals for the team and has been a positive presence nearly every game. His +/- of 9 is third on the Knights, trailing only Karlsson and Brayden McNabb.

Coming up

The Knights are back at home for a one-off against the Arizona Coyotes before taking off for another three-game road trip. The Knights will travel to Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver next week before making their way back home again on Dec. 2nd for a rematch with the Washington Capitals.