Las Vegas–Today we at Vegas Knights of The Roundtable moves into part 7 of our 8 part series on how the Vegas Golden Knights will match up against the competition from around the league.
The last several days we completely analyzed the following division from the National Hockey League, Pacific, Central, and Atlantic.
Which leaves us the Metropolitan Division as the last group of teams for us to dive into and analyze.
Once again for the best regular season in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals was the league’s top finisher with 118 points (which was 2 fewer points than last year’s total) to their credit with a record of 55-19-8.
This may be impressive to some but in reality, this means nothing when it doesn’t translate into Stanley Cup Playoffs success.
For the 2nd year in a row, the Capitals hockey team were knocked out of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2nd round.
Now the blame game for this organization can be easily pointed to their franchise player in Alexander Ovechkin because he’s the one that brings the most offense to Washington every single year.
In the 2016-17 campaign, Ovi recorded 50 goals. This most recent season his goal production took a sharp decline where he finished the campaign with 33.
T.J. Oshie also finished the 2016-17 season with 33 goals as well and forward Nicklas Backstrom led the Caps in assists with 63.
Former Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee choose both Ovechkin and Backstrom in the NHL Entry Drafts (2004 and 2006) both in the 1st round.
Washington’s special team’s performance during the regular season was in the leagues top 5 in terms of the power play. They had a success rate of 22.98% and scored 57 times. On the killing penalties department, they were very good in top 10 at 83.82%.
Veteran blueliner John Carlson was the teams top minutes guy with an ATOI of 22:43.
Their GF and GA was 263 and 182 respectively.
Between the pipes, Braden Holtby was impressive during the regular season with a 42-13-6 record with a .927 save percentage and a GAA of 2.07. He had 63 starts last season which made him a workhorse in net.
His playoff performance was the problem in part that his GAA was 2.47 and a .909 save percentage.
The positive going forward for the Vegas Golden Knights is that McPhee has intimate knowledge of the Capitals having built most of the roster over the years.
When the upcoming season starts and unfolds in front of our eyes will Washington continue to write the same narrative as regular season warriors and playoff failures, we will have to wait and see.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, they became the 1st team since the 1997/1998 Detroit Red Wings to win back-2-back Stanley Cup Championships (defeated San Jose and Nashville in the finals both years in 6 games).
It was the youngster in net Matt Murray who answered the call to deliver the Penguins 2 consecutive Stanley Cups.
Last years run to the cup he posted a GAA 1.70 and a .937 save percentage and in the prior season he registered a GAA of 2.08 and a .923 save percentage.
The Penguins have two super stars in Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who deliver in the clutch both in the regular season and the playoffs. In regular season Crosby and Malkin finished 1 and 2 in goals, #87 with 44 and #71 scored 33.
In the playoffs, they were 1st and 2nd in assists (Crosby had 19 and Malkin with 18).
This team has a ton of weapons but for the sake of this report, that will have to be written in another post at a later date.
With a lot of regular season and playoffs games played over the recent campaigns, they may start to cool off in a way which could cause them to experience fatigue and potentially get knocked out early in the postseason.
For the Golden Knights, they received Marc-André Fleury in the Vegas Draft. Flower, as he is called, brings to the teams 3 championships (2009, 2016, and 2017) and a headliner which is very important for the Vegas community.
Vegas will have their hands full when they play them twice this season so they will need to be ready or they will get beat very badly.
Their GF and GA was 282 and 234 respectively last year.
Columbus Blue Jackets
After not qualifying to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 2-straight seasons, Columbus participated in the dance this past season.
However, their time did not last long as they were knocked quick by Pittsburgh in 5 games. The last time they face the Penguins in the playoffs was 3 seasons ago. In that matchup, Pittsburgh defeated them in 6.
They did take a major step forward in performance in the regular season as they increased their winning points total by 32 at 108 (in the 2015-16 campaign, they had 76).
Their record was 50-24-8 which was a major improvement for the year before where it was 34-40-8.
The Blue Jackets best offensive player was Cam Atkinson. Atkinson scored 35 goals and pitched in with 27 assists for 62 points.
Nick Foligno, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg and Sam Gagner all finished the season for Columbus with 50 or more points. Wennberg with 59, Saad had 53, Foligno recorded 51, and Gagner produced 50.
22-year-old Seth Jones led the team on the blueline and the team with an ATOI of 23:24.
Columbus finished the season ranked 12th on the power play at 19.91% and scored 42 times. On the penalty kill, they came in 9th at 82.51%.
Their GF and GA was 249 and 195 respectively.
This team works hard under Head Coach John Tortorella who recently won the Jack Adams trophy for the 2nd time in his coaching career. The last time he won it was when he coached the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2003-04 season.
Vegas will have to play well against Columbus if they want some kind of success against them in the upcoming season.
New York Rangers
For the 3rd season in a row, the Blueshirts finished their campaign with 100+ points at 102 with a record of 48-28-6.
They advanced to the 2nd round the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season only to be beaten by the Ottawa Senators 4 games to 2.
This marked the 2 time in 3 recent appearances in the playoffs where they got knocked out within the 1st two rounds.
Their top 2 goal scorers last year were Chris Kreider and Michael Grabner. Kreider scored 28 and Graber produced 27.
Forward Matts Zuccarello led the Rangers in assists in the last campaign at 44, while veteran forward Derek Stepan came in 2nd with 38 of his own.
Zuccarello and Stepan were New York’s point leaders with 59 and 55.
The Rangers GF and GA last season was 256 and 220 respectively.
On the backend veteran defenseman, Ryan McDonagh led the Blueshirts with big minutes at an ATOI of 24:21.
In terms of special teams, the Rangers finished the season off at 10th overall on the power play at a success rate of 20.26% and scored 47 times.
On the other side in the killing penalties department, they came in 19th place at just short of 80% at 79.91%.
When the New York Rangers are at their very best they could their opponents are a hard time in all areas of the ice.
For Vegas to have some kind of success against the Blueshirts, they will need to compete and play hard at both ends of the ice.
Tomorrow we will complete the 8-parter with the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, and the New Jersey Devils.