The Vegas Golden Knights head into the month of March with the best record in the Western Conference standings but the lead at the top of the West is anything but comfortable and a sure thing in the home stretch. The Stanley Cup playoff race is now heating up and it is time to do lots of scoreboard watching and maneuvering.
The Western Conference Standings after February 28:
VGK (35-19-5) – 76 pts
LAK (34-20-8) – 76 pts
SEA (33-21-6) – 72 pts
EDM (32-21-8) – 72 pts
CGY (27-21-12) – 66 pts
DAL (31-16-13) – 75 pts
MIN (34-21-6) – 74 pts
COL (34-19-5) – 73 pts
WPG (35-24-1) – 71 pts
NSH (29-23-6) – 64 pts
What is coming up for the Golden Knights?
The Golden Knights over the next two weeks have the Carolina Hurricanes (39-11-8) – 86 pts and New Jersey Devils (39-15-5) – 83 pts and Montreal (last in Atlantic) at home before going on a critical road trip that includes Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, St. Louis and Philadelphia for five games, in that order. The schedule is difficult but the Golden Knights will have the benefit of being in a solid routine with every one of the next eight games will be played every other day. As an added bonus, the five road trip games are all at 7:00p ET/4:00p PT.
The first three games of the five game road trip involves teams either in the playoff picture now or just on the outside of the wild card race.
What to expect over the next two weeks…
The home games against Carolina and New Jersey will give us a good look at what we can expect with a playoff atmosphere. Carolina, led by Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns will be two names that are must watch on the ice. How Bruce Cassidy centers his game plan around them should be the story of the game.
With New Jersey, the Golden Knights will be among the first teams to see what the Devils have to offer with Timo Meier in the line-up after being traded from the San Jose Sharks. Jack Hughes will be another name that will be worth watching. Tomas Tatar is among the league’s best in the plus minus category.
Montreal may be down this season but they still present a challenge for opposing teams. The Canadiens have played very well since the All-Star break. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield will be a force to be reckoned with on the Montreal side.
Florida will always be tough with Sergei Bobrovsky or Spencer Knight in the net for the Panthers. Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk are players on the offensive side that is expected to have a big impact on the Golden Knights defensive game plans.
The Lightning with Tanner Jeannot being the newest acquisition to an already star studded line up that has Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos will have a big set of challenges by themselves. Kucherov is among the league leaders in scoring while Andrei Vasilevskiy is among the best goaltenders in the league.
The game against St, Louis will be a homecoming for the newly acquired Ivan Barbashev returning to St. Louis for the first time since being traded to the Golden Knights. A new look Blues team after the trade deadline will definitely be the focus. As always Jordan Bennington will be a big focus of the Golden Knights attack.
Much like Montreal and St, Louis, the Philadelphia Flyers have had a rough time of it with the 2022-23 season. The question about the Flyers will be what kind of team they will be past the trade deadline?
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