Looking Back: Golden Knights at the NHL Season's Halfway Point

Tonight marks the end of the first half of the 2023-24 NHL season for the Vegas Golden Knights. Let's take a look at how they've reached the midway point in previous seasons, and what that has meant for their end result.
Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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The Vegas Golden Knights have officially reached the halfway point of the 2023-24 NHL season. The good news? They remain firmly in a playoff spot amidst a litany of injuries, with Jack Eichel and Mark Stone anchoring the club. The bad news? Those injuries have kept the team's goaltending in limbo and have now thinned out the forward and defensive corps, knocking Vegas from its perch atop the Pacific Division.

At 23-12-5, things aren't bad for the Golden Knights, per se. They also, however, don't look like the unstoppable juggernaut that reeled off an 11-0-1 record through the season's first 12 games (they are 12-12-4 since). The second half of the season will give us a better read on who they are heading into the playoffs.

But how accurate is the halfway mark in determining a team's over-all success? Let's take a look at where the Golden Knights have stood through 41 games (or less) in past seasons and how it turned out for them.

2017-18 Season

At the Halfway Mark: 29-10-2

How It Ended: 51-24-7, reached Stanley Cup Final

Much of the first half of the 2017-18 season was spent with NHL critics waiting for the clock to strike midnight on the expansion Golden Knights. Unless you count losing in five games to the Washington Capitals in the Cup Final, it never did.

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two / Isaac Brekken/GettyImages

2018-19 Season

At the Halfway Mark: 22-15-4

How It Ended: 43-32-7, lost in the first round (4-3) to the San Jose Sharks

The Golden Knights began to treat themselves like a league powerhouse that was ready to win now, adding Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and, later, Mark Stone. Those names, however, couldn't prevent Vegas from taking a step back, narrowly making the playoffs before blowing a 3-1 series lead (and a 3-0 third period advantage in Game 7) to the San Jose Sharks.

2019-20 Season

At the Halfway Mark*: 17-13-5

How It Ended: 39-24-8, lost in the Western Conference Final (4-1) to the Dallas Stars

* The club played a total of 71 games in the pandemic-shortened season.

After an underwhelming, inconsistent first half, no team was hotter down the stretch than the Golden Knights - before the global pandemic put an abrupt end to the regular season, anyway. They had won 11 of 13 when the COVID outbreak put an end to the season. When things resumed in the playoff bubble, Vegas carried over enough momentum to reach the Western Conference Final before falling to the Stars.

2020-21 Season

At the Halfway Mark*: 21-6-1

How It Ended: 40-14-2, lost in the Semifinals (4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens)

* 56-game season.

The Golden Knights steamrolled their way through the season's first half, even with no fans in attendance for 11 of their first 15 home games. The second half would be almost equally dominant (19-8-1), at least until they fell to the Cinderella Montreal Canadiens in a six-game semifinal.

2021-22 Season

At the Halfway Mark: 24-15-2

How It Ended: 43-31-8, missed the playoffs

It's wild to think that an injury-marred 94-point season serves as the nadir of the club's existence, but that's what happens when you make the playoffs every other season. Vegas was actually five points clear of the rest of the Pacific at the midway point of the campaign, but a rash of injuries contributed to their 19-16-6 mark the rest of the season and a tumble down the standings.

2022-23 Season

At the Halfway Mark: 27-12-2

How It Ended: 51-22-9, things worked out okay

There were setbacks, sure, but the 2022-23 campaign was a pretty emphatic success from start to finish. The Golden Knights held the lead in the Pacific Division at the half and then managed to withstand second half challenges from the Los Angeles Kings, Seattle Kraken and Edmonton Oilers along the way to the top seed in the West. And they didn't stop there along the way to the Stanley Cup.

All things considered, the Golden Knights are in a strong - and familiar - position. They head into the season's back nine firmly in control of their playoff destiny, with hope of better things to come with the return of Adin Hill and others. It remains to be seen what the postseason will bring, but for now this is a team that is right where it wants to be - more or less.