The Golden Knights, serious Cup Contenders. As in – right now. And here’s why

Kevin Wickersham

2018-03-05

 

The West’s most prolific scorer other than Connor McDavid since February 1 is Vegas’ Reilly Smith

 

 

With 22 points (nine goals) in 15 contests, Smith has now registered 60 points in 65 games. As with many of the Golden Knights, this campaign has produced a career high for the age 26, six-year vet who previously topped out at 51 points with the Bruins in 2013-14. As another testament to Vegas’ high-powered offense, Smith should easily eclipse his previous high mark for shots on goal currently sporting a total of 160 that’s barely behind his 173 shot 2015-16 with the Panthers.

 

Earning more accolades, the Knights’ top line of Smith, William Karlsson, and Jonathan Marchessault, the NHL’s most prolific since February 1, outpace the NHL’s next-best line in that time period (Philly’s Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Travis Konecny) by nine points, 37 to 28.

 

Each linemate also boasts terrific stats in the recent past. Karlsson’s on a 15-point tear in the last 13 games, while Marchessault’s racked up 11 points in his previous eight contests.

 

So how far will they go in the playoffs? How much would you put down on them, now at 42-18-5, to take the Cup? We are far beyond the point where we can attribute their 89 points in the standings to visiting players contracting the “Vegas Flu”. Their 24-7-2 home record is surely impressive, but their 18-11-3 mark off Knights’ ice is more than solid, and makes you wonder how they might hold up in extended postseason series.

 

While Nashville (42-14-9) holds a four point lead over them in the conference with 17 games remaining on the schedule for each squad, Vegas sits second in the West, ten points ahead of their nearest Pacific Division challenger San Jose (35-21-9).

 

With most of the Central Division (other than the Blackhawks at this point) in the thick of the playoff hunt, and four of its seven squads (Colorado, St. Louis, Dallas, and Minnesota) within four points of each other angling for the final division slot and two wild card spots