Now past the midway point of the season, the Vegas Golden Knights are behind last years pace, and still in a stellar spot for the young franchise. On the scoreboard, the Knights are sitting at third place in the Pacific Division with a 29-19-4 record and 62 points as they head into the back half of the 2018-19 season.
After reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in their Inaugural season, the team was in a unique position. They had the best inaugural season in the history of modern American history. A team that was supposed to struggle ended up dominating the Western Conference.
🎥 Pacioretty: It's important for us to establish our identity coming out of the break. pic.twitter.com/ecFLVBvNN4
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 31, 2019
After spending the offseason extending their young stars and bringing in a trio of established players, the team was geared up for 2018-19 — but not before one final hiccup. Defenseman Nate Schmidt’s 20-game suspension threw a wrench into the team’s plans and early success before his return helped right the ship.
Once Schmidt came back, the band was back and had several major single game successes. The biggest wins of the first half were against Calgary and Washington.
As mentioned in the earlier article, the win over the Flames came at the perfect time. Despite a mediocre record, the team was struggling all over the ice. Then came the perfect storm. Back at home for the first time was Schmidt. It was the return of James Neal. Calgary shellacked the Knights north of the border that same week. Then Vegas put up a violent 2–0 win and won five of their next six, including the Capitals game.
For the first time since they were forced to watch the Capitals raise the Stanley Cup, fans in the Fortress were treated with the rematch. Vegas not only won 5–3 in the Dec. 4 faceoff, but forward Ryan Reaves took out Tom Wilson with a devastating hit. The hit knocked Wilson out for 10 days and helped spark the victory.
While a hockey game is hundreds of little things working just right, there are two factors Knights fans can look to for how the season has progressed to this point and what might happen next. The third major game came just before the All-Star Break. On Jan. 19 the Knights defeated the Penguins 7-3 and Jonathan Marchessault got the team’s third hat trick in franchise history, and the first by someone other than William Karlsson. While not Earth-shattering, it was a nice moment for fans and players alike, and a momentum boost before the break.
LOVE A GOOD HAT TRICK THIS TIME OF YEAR pic.twitter.com/xh4yaojFMx
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 20, 2019