As the NHL 21-22 season came to an end, the Golden Knights couldn’t keep cool in the desert heat, losing 6 out of the last 10 regular season games. Falling short to the Sharks, Stars, and Blackhawks were the final nails in the coffin. Even with the return of Stone and Eichel, it wasn’t enough time to get cohesion between the lines. Given more time, the Knights could have been a very dangerous team as the NHL 7th seed.
Season Tormented With Injuries
For all the VGK fans out there, we know how the last season ended: lonesome, shocked, disappointed, heartbroken, robbed, just straight cursed! The team had caught the injury bug early in the 21-22 season, starting with Mark Stone (45 games) early last October, which would keep him out for most of the year. Other NHL key players that were injured last season that missed a significant amount of time were Robin Lehner (38 games), Alec Martinez (56 games), and former Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty (43 games). The Vegas Golden Knights even traded for an injured Jack Eichel (48 games) who was recovering from neck surgery. The fact that the Golden Knights were in the hunt for a NHL playoff spot all the way down to the last couple of games is pretty remarkable!
David not Goliath?
It is not very often, if ever, that an expansion team can come into the NHL in their inaugural season and not only go to the Stanley Cup but establish themselves as one of the Goliaths in the league. The Golden Knights record before entering the injury-plagued 21-22 season was 173-94. Coming up 4th in the Pacific division, 9th in the conference, and missing the playoffs was more than a disappointment, but head-scratching.
As the start of the regular season rapidly approaches, the Vegas Golden Knights enter the year as the underdog, aka David. Missing the playoffs for the first time in team history will do that to the team, apparently. That’s the feeling the players and fans are getting from around the league and local casinos. WilliamHill has the Vegas Golden Knights as the 8th favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Knights have not been ranked that low since the 2017 inaugural season as the longshot at 500-1.
The Golden Knights feel like they have something to prove. Not only to themselves but to the fans and to the organization after falling short last year. The hiring of Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, acquiring veteran Phil Kessel, and trading for goalie Adin Hill are just some of the clubs biggest moves this offseason. With rookie camp underway, and training camp starting mid-week, Mark Stone and company have a lot to leave out on the ice.