Through the first half of the 2022-23 season, there was plenty of reason to be excited in regards to the Vegas Golden Knights. In fact, by the time the Christmas break rolled around, they had an extremely impressive 24-11-1 record, which had them sitting first atop the Pacific Division with a cozy lead.
Since then, however, their lead in the Pacific has gotten plenty more stressful. In fact, the Golden Knights were bumped to second place in the standings recently by the Seattle Kraken, but have since reclaimed the top spot. That said, things are starting to get tight between them and a number of other teams, in large part due to their recent slump.
During this slump, which has been an ongoing issue since returning from Christmas break, the Golden Knights have put forward a disappointing 5-6-1 record, with the most recent loss coming against the lowly Arizona Coyotes.
There has been a number of reasons as to the decline in their play, one of the main being injuries. The most significant of the bunch is Mark Stone – who is believed to have re-injured is back – though he is far from the only one. Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud, Brett Howden, William Carrier, Daniil Miromanov and Pavel Dorofeyev are also all out of the lineup due to injury.
While injuries certainly haven’t helped, however, there are a number of healthy players who simply aren’t pulling their weight right now. One is Jack Eichel, who was called out by his head coach this past week, and has just one assist through his past five games. Another is Chandler Stephenson, who has been held without a point in six of his past seven outings. Meanwhile, Reilly Smith, who started out the season red hot, has failed to find the back of the net in nine straight.
Suffice to say, this team simply doesn’t have enough individuals performing at their best right now, and until that changes, these struggles may continue. Their great run through the first half of the season has allowed for them to go through this tough stretch without sinking in the standings, though that may change if things continue for much longer.
As mentioned, things are getting a lot tighter in the standings as of late, as the Kraken sit just a lone point behind the Golden Knights while holding two games in hand. The Los Angeles Kings are also right in the mix, as they sit just two points shy of the Golden Knights, while the red hot Edmonton Oilers now find themselves just three points back. Though there is still plenty of hockey left to be played, every game from here on out is a massive one given the current standings.
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