John Locher/Associated Press
Either way, the NHL’s newest team is headed to the postseason for the fourth straight season. The Golden Knights, three years removed from a Stanley Cup Final berth in their inaugural season, will be looking to improve on a Conference Finals appearance last year.
This year’s playoff format is different than usual. With the league divided into four location-based divisions, the top four teams in each group will make the postseason. The first two rounds of the playoffs will consist of intra-division games and the advancing teams will then be reseeded based on regular-season point total.
Here is a look at what teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today:
Vegas Golden Knights: 68 points (33-11-2)
Colorado Avalanche: 64 points (30-9-4)
Minnesota Wild: 61 points (29-13-3)
Arizona Coyotes: 45 points (20-22-5)
Carolina Hurricanes: 65 points (30-10-5)
Florida Panthers: 65 points (30-12-5)
Tampa Bay Lightning: 62 points (30-14-2)
Nashville Predators: 52 points (25-21-2)
Dallas Stars: 50 points (19-14-12)
Washington Capitals: 62 points (29-13-4)
New York Islanders: 62 points (29-13-4)
Pittsburgh Penguins: 61 points (29-14-3)
Boston Bruins: 58 points (26-12-6)
Toronto Maple Leafs: 61 points (28-13-5)
Winnipeg Jets: 47 points (27-15-3)
Edmonton Oilers: 56 points (27-15-2)
Montreal Canadiens: 47 points (19-15-9)
The Golden Knights are far from the same team that ran all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season as a franchise, but their roster has put them atop the league table all the same. For the second successive season, the Golden Knights have surged past the competition due to the power of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, who served as the team’s most productive skaters this season.
Stone is among the league leaders in assists, with 35 helpers to go with 18 goals, while Pacioretty has found the net 22 times and helped out on 24 goals. Shea Theodore is also with Stone on the league leaderboards with 32 assists to go with six goals.
Vegas also welcomed Alex Pietrangelo as a headline signing in free agency. He helped bolster the defense in front of two starting-caliber netminders in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner.
All of that has combined to help the Golden Knights maintain a postseason presence for the fourth year in as many tries since joining the league.