Vegas Golden Knights: Critical Stretch Ahead Against Pacific Division

The Vegas Golden Knights can make or break their season against their division rivals.

Underwhelming. That’s the one word that sums up the Vegas Golden Knights 2018-19 campaign thus far. The team isn’t buying into Gerard Gallant’s hard-working, three-zone style of play.

Vegas has struggled in all facets of the game, defending, scoring and goaltending have been average to subpar to start the year. And to make matters worse, the NHL’s newest team is banged up and filled with injuries. The club is missing Erik Haula and Paul Stastny to long-term ailments.

Luckily the Golden Knights have a lot of things working in their favor as of late. Vegas defeated the Anaheim Ducks in a 5-0 rout at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday night. The victory stopped a two-game skid and improved the overall team record to 8-10-1. Sure that record isn’t impressive in the slightest. However, nearly the entire Pacific division currently sits in a similar position.

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Vegas currently sits in seventh place in the Pacific division. Yes,  seventh place doesn’t sound great if you’re a Golden Knights fan. Although, Vegas only sits three points out of a playoff spot and six points out of first. On the other hand, the team is only six points out of last place in the Pacific.

Looking at the Golden Knights upcoming schedule, this is the time to pick up points. The teams most crucial part of the season is coming up next with seven out of the next nine games coming against their division foes. Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Arizona, and San Jose all await the Golden Knights.

And with a condensed schedule coming up, the Golden Knights are going to have to rely on Malcolm Subban a little bit more. Marc-Andre Fleury has been consistent for Vegas; however, he has been overused and overplayed. The team will need Subban to get in a groove and step up just like he did last season for the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights have even more good news is on the way because Nate Schmidt is set to return Sunday night in Edmonton after serving a 20-game suspension. The Golden Knights number one weapon on the blue line is scratching and clawing to get back into the lineup. The addition of Schmidt should get the Golden Knights back to full strength on defense.

Coach Gallant has options he can play with when he inserts Schmidt into their plans. He could ease him into the lineup with a minutes count, or he could go balls to the wall an let him loose. We’ll see how Gallant uses Schmidt in his return.

All in all, the Vegas Golden Knights need to come out with a winning record on this upcoming stretch of games. If they don’t, they could be finding themselves in the cellar for perhaps the rest of the season.