After an incredible first four seasons in the NHL, the wheels fell off for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2021-22, the fifth year of the franchise’s existence.
Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, the Golden Knights were considered a heavy favorite for the Stanley Cup. That never came close to panning out, however, as they finished the year with a disappointing 43-31-8. As a result, many seemed to write them off when it came to the 2022-23 campaign. Those who did, however, seemed to be forgetting one key reason that played a huge role in their disappointing year.
The Golden Knights couldn’t catch a break last season when it came to injuries. Players such as Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, Brett Howden, William Carrier, Zach Whitecloud, Alec Martinez, Nolan Patrick, and both goaltenders in Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit, all missed significant time due to different ailments. They never played with a fully healthy lineup, and it resulted in some very uncharacteristic play from a team that had established their dominance in years past.
Though relatively early into the year, the Golden Knights have been healthy through their first 21 games of the 2022-23 campaign, as they sit second in NHL standings with an impressive 16-4-1 record. They are getting plentiful production from several of their top stars, none more so than Eichel, who is up to 26 points on the year. Meanwhile, Alex Pietrangelo is having himself a fantastic bounce back campaign with 21 points thus far.
Another potential reason for the success this season is the new man they have behind the bench in Bruce Cassidy. While many thought Pete DeBoer’s firing this past spring was unjust, everyone agreed that the hiring of Cassidy was a solid one, and he is proving them right. He has this team playing the most consistent hockey we have seen from them on a night-to-night basis, and it is resulting in plenty of wins early on.
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