As of January 28th, 2021, there is now a new number one on top of the NHL power rankings. That team is the Vegas Golden Knights. For the first time in this very young season, the Golden Knights have topped the power rankings, barely edging out the Tampa Bay Lightning. The voting for number one was actually split down the middle, seven votes per team. But, since the Golden had held the number two spot six times this season versus the four times for the Lightning, the Golden Knights got the edge.
So what does this mean? In the grand scope of the season, nothing much. But in the short term, it gives some much-needed notoriety to how well the start of the season has gone for the Golden Knights.
Currently sitting at a record of 5-1-1, the Golden Knights have played some very good hockey. Plus, this is historically the second-best start for the Golden Knights. Their inaugural season showed an impressive 8-1-0 start in their first nine games.
In this new shortened season, the Golden Knights are already 12.5% of the way through the 2021 season. Taking a comparative look at previous seasons, the best start (at roughly the 12.5% of the season mark, approx. 10 games) was 8-2-0 in the 2017-2018 season. The next two seasons (2018-2019, 2019-2020) brought forward a 4-5-1 and 6-4-0 start respectively. But what is causing the early success?
Golden Knights Early Season Success
The Golden Knights have the dynamic duo of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner in net, rotating game by game. Fleury currently sits tied for second on GAA with a 1.00 tied with Semyon Varlamov of the New York Islanders. Then there"s Mark Stone currently tied for second in total points on the season with 11.
There"s also Max Pacioretty who is tied for first in total goals on the season with six goals. He was able to notch half of those against the St. Louis Blues the other night getting his seventh career hat trick. And lastly, Shea Theodore is among the top defensemen in the league, third in points, and tied for first in goals. Alex Pietrangelo has fit into his new role quite nicely as well. In seven games, Pietrangelo has four points (one goal and three assists).
Although the Golden Knights have two losses, one was a game to forget against the Arizona Coyotes, and the other was a loss against the Blues in a shootout. But looking at the big picture, this is one of the best starts the Vegas Golden Knights have ever had, and they have earned the top spot in the NHL Power Rankings.
All this being said, looking at the numbers, this is what the Vegas Golden Knights need. Getting off to that hot start is what can set the tone for a team. As we all know, the modified season and unique circumstances have brought some challenges forward for this very young season. But, even modified, the season is still a marathon, not a race. And the Vegas Golden Knights, in the power rankings, sit at the pole position and do not wanna leave it any time soon.
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