Las Vegas–With the preseason and regular season approaching Vegas Knights of The Roundtable will take part in an 8 part series on how the Golden Knights will match up to the competition around the league.
Today we start things off with the 1st half of the Pacific Division which they are a member of.
Last season in the Pacific, the Anaheim Ducks were the top dogs with a 46-23-13 and collected 105 points in the process. They had a GF of 223 and a GA of 200.
They had a GF of 223 and a GA of 200.
Their power play percentage was 18.73 and converted 44 times in the 2016-17 campaign.
The Ducks however surrendered 7 shorthanded goals which doesn’t seem like much. On the flip side, they scored 9 shorty’s against their opponents in the regular season.
On the other side of the special teams, they kept their opponents from scoring at an 84.70% rate that ranked them in the top 5 in the killing penalties. The Ducks allowed 43 power play goals.
Ryan Kesler had 8 power play goals while right behind him was Ryan Getzlaf who had 6 of his own.
Their top goal-scorer last season was Rickard Rakell who ended up putting 33 in the back of the net. Of those 33 markers, he converted 5 times on the man advantage.
For Rakell last season was a career-high for him in the goal-scoring department as he bested his previous record by 13 from the 2015-16 campaign (20 goals).
The Golden Knights defense will need to keep a watchful eye out for Rakell when he steps foot out on the ice. Same goes for Kesler and Getzlaf that Vegas will have to pay attention to as well.
Perhaps the biggest surprise last season was the second place Oilers in the Pacific as they took a major step forward from years of losing seasons. They captured 103 points with a 47-26-9 record.
They had a GF of 247 and a GA of 212 which is better than the 1st place Ducks.
This was contributed by Connor McDavid‘s stellar performance as he posted 100 points (30 goals and 70 assists).
The German Gretzky as he called, Leon Draisaitl also had a good year of his own as he was second in offense with 29 goals, 48 assists for 77 points.
Both Draisaitl and McDavid each had career years last seasons for the Oilers.
In the 2016-17 season, the Oilers were in the leagues top 5 in the power play percentage at 22.68 and converted 56 times. This could be contributed by veteran forward Milan Lucic with 12 power play tallies.
Fellow forward Mark Letestu had 11 power play goals of his own and Draisaitl scored 10.
For Vegas, they will need to play a solid discipline if they want to keep the Oilers from going on the man advantage. The key for them is to stay out of the box.
On the other side of special teams, the Oilers were in the middle of the pack in the killing penalties department at an 80.72% which is 4% worse than Anaheim’s. The Oilers gave up 43 power play goals in the 2016-17 season.
They only allowed 5 shorthanded goals last season but also scored 4 shorthanded goals.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks 2016-17 campaign did not go as planned given that in the season before they finally reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the 1st time in franchise history in 25 years only to lose to Pittsburgh in a 6 game series affair.
San Jose place 3rd in the Pacific last season with a 46-29-7 record which fell of the century mark at 99 points. When they went to the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2015-16 campaign, their record was almost the same at 46-30-6 for a point less at 98.
They had a GF of 212 and a GA of 200 which was worse than the 1st place Ducks and 2nd place Oilers. This was in part due to lack of secondary scoring that San Jose struggled with during the previous campaign.
Another area in which the Sharks had struggled with on the power play. San Jose posted a well below-average rate on the man advantage at 16.67% which is considered unacceptable by Sharks standards. One the areas of the game that San Jose pride’s itself on.
They managed to put the puck in the back of the net 41 times on the man advantage during the previous season.
Logan Couture and Brent Burns were the teams top 2 goal scorers on the power play with 11 and 8 respectively.
The Golden Knights need to be aware that when he is parked in his office space on the ice, Couture possesses a very good wrist shot that Fleury will need to stop from entering his net.
With Burns, his wrist and slap shots are as equally deadly to one another which the Golden Knights shot blockers will have to be prepared for.
Burns and Joe Pavelski were the Sharks two top goal scorers with 29 each last season.
Their penalty kill side of the game was average at 80.66% as they let in 41 goals while shorthanded.
They scored 7 shorthanded goals while letting in 6.
The interesting part with San Jose is that they are a team in another phase of transition now that former franchise player Patrick Marleau has left for Toronto with a new 3-year deal with that original six hockey club.
Thus leaving Joe Thornton the only remaining member of the team from the 1990’s era.
The Sharks are still a competitive team so the Golden Knights need to understand that and play hard against them.
Part 2 of the Pacific Division will be looked at and analyzed tomorrow so stay tuned…