Will the Struggling Golden Knights Reach the NHL Playoffs?

Devon Platana

The Vegas Golden Knights began the 2021-22 NHL season with many experts and fans labeling them as being “Stanley Cup contenders.”

After all, they’ve qualified for the playoff in each of the franchise’s four seasons of existence. Plus, they’ve made it to the Western Conference Finals in two of those campaigns, while going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in Year 1.

Nevertheless, the Golden Knights’ season has taken a turn for the worse once the calendar flipped over to 2022. After a 23-13-1 start to the campaign, Vegas is 9-13-3 in their last 25 games.

It certainly doesn’t help that Vegas has been bitten by the injury bug, with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty — two of the club’s top players — missing extended periods of time.

Following Wednesday night’s NHL results, the Golden Knights occupy the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with 68 points. However, the Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks are breathing down their neck, with each of those teams all within three points of Vegas.

If their skid continues, will the Golden Knights miss this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs? Or can they bounce back and end the regular season on a high note?

Odds Indicate Golden Knights Have Shot at Playoff Run

Although this year’s postseason is a month and a half away, sportsbooks are already listing odds when it comes to certain teams’ chances at qualifying for the playoffs.

When it comes to the Golden Knights, BetMGM is currently favoring them at -110 odds to see a postseason berth come May. While fans might be happy with those odds, they’re much worse than where people expected Vegas to set at when the NHL season first began.

For reference, the Stars — who sit a point behind the Golden Knights with four games in hand — have -300 odds to make the playoffs. Not only does that show how Dallas has a better shot at making the postseason but it also proves that Vegas needs to turn things around as soon as possible because the former can easily close the deficit by winning just one of those four games.

The good news for the Golden Knights is that their remaining schedule is manageable. They have the fifth-easiest schedule to end the regular season, according to Tankathon, with their remaining opponents averaging 1.06 points per game.

In other words, Vegas’ playoff hopes are in its own hands. The Golden Knights’ third-last game of the season will be against the Dallas Stars on the road, so there’s a good chance that matchup could be the deciding factor for either team’s postseason aspirations.

Two Golden Knights Players That Must Step Up

If the Golden Knights hope to make the playoffs and go on an extended run, they’re going to need a pair of certain players to step up as soon as possible. The sooner these players begin to play to their potential, the easier the postseason hunt will be.

William Karlsson

William Karlsson was one of the biggest steals for the Golden Knights during their 2017-18 expansion draft. While he appeared to be a first-line player during the inaugural campaign, his offensive production has dipped with each passing year.

Karlsson only has 11 points during Vegas’ 25-game skid. He’s only found the back of the net three times during that stretch, which translates to a 0.12 goals-per-game (GPG) rate. That’s fairly disappointing for a player who averaged 0.34 GPG in his four previous seasons with the Golden Knights.

Getting Karlsson going will go a long way in helping the Golden Knights reach the playoffs. They’re paying him an average annual value (AAV) of $5.9 million until the 2026-27 season, so he better start producing before Vegas has even more buyer’s remorse.

Shea Theodore

Shea Theodore has carved out a role as the Golden Knights’ top offensive defenseman in recent seasons. Although his 36 points in 58 games looks pretty impressive on paper, 31 of those points came during his first 40 outings this season.

Theodore has recorded just five assists in his last 18 games and has a minus-7 plus/minus rating over that stretch. He’s been held off the scoresheet completely in 14 of those outings, which has only frustrated Golden Knights fans even more.

The 26-year-old is a pretty talented goal-scorer for a blueliner, but he hasn’t found the back of the net since Jan. 20. Considering how that was 21 games ago — just about when Vegas’ skid began — it isn’t unfathomable to imagine things picking up if he can start hitting his offensive stride.

Golden Knights Still Have Shot at Stanley Cup Run

Even though the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes are slipping and they’re on a five-game losing streak as of Tuesday 7-3 loss at Winnipeg, their shot at a Stanley Cup run isn’t dead yet.

BetMGM is giving Vegas +1100 odds to win the 2021-22 Stanley Cup, which ranks seventh best among eligible NHL clubs. Those are pretty promising odds for a team that’s just -110 to make the playoffs in the first place.

The fact is that the Golden Knights have an extremely talented roster that’s been marred by injuries and underachieving performances. As the team gets healthier and gets players like Stone and Reilly Smith back in the lineup, things could begin to trend awkward.

The Stanley Cup is sometimes decided by whichever team gets hot at the right time. With an easy schedule ahead and players returning from injury sooner or later, it’s still too early to write the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes off… just yet.

More Articles You Might like

Latest on Betting News

Two former Mississippi State teammates will go head-to-head tonight in St. Louis as Brandon Woodruff and the Milwaukee Brewers take on Dakota Hudson and the Cardinals. In yesterday’s series opener at Busch Stadium, the Brewers eked out a 4-3 win. Tonight, Hudson will look to draw the Cardinals level in this NL Central rivalry series