Perhaps we should call the St. Louis Blues “The Coolers.”
Some unlikely stories are spilling over from 2017 into 2018, and the Vegas Golden Knights have been doing their part; they extended their winning streak to eight games with their first contest of 2018, beating the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Tuesday.
They weren’t that far off from making it nine, but the Blues ended up prevailing on Thursday, squeaking out a 2-1 outcome to end the fun. Perhaps fittingly, even the Blues admitted that Paul Stastny‘s eventual game-winner was a bit of a fluke.
After examining the makeup of the Golden Knights’ eight-game winning streak, it’s interesting that this game followed some of the same patterns.
For one thing, Vegas continues to enjoy stupendous goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in this one, stopping 37 out of 39 shots, but Carter Hutton‘s hot streak continues, as he made 32 out of 33 saves. Even if that Stastny goal wasn’t pretty, “The Flower” and Vegas’ other goalies continue to let it ride.
During the Golden Knights’ winning streak, the power play was a surprisingly small piece of the puzzle, as they failed to score on the man advantage in six of those eight contests. (A lot of times a team can ride superlative special teams play for stretches.) In Thursday’s case, Vegas only received one opportunity on the power play, and failed to convert.
The Golden Knights need to shake this loss off quickly, too, as they’ll turn around and face the Blackhawks in Chicago on Friday.
Really, the team’s schedule may ultimately be the real William H. Macy here. While they’ll be rewarded with a lot of home-cooking in mid-February, the next month could be rough for the upstarts:
Fri, Jan 5 @ Chicago
Sun, Jan 7 vs NY Rangers
Sat, Jan 13 vs Edmonton
Tue, Jan 16 @ Nashville
Thu, Jan 18 @ Tampa Bay
Fri, Jan 19 @ Florida
Sun, Jan 21 @ Carolina
Tue, Jan 23 vs Columbus
Thu, Jan 25 vs NY Islanders
Tue, Jan 30 @ Calgary
Thu, Feb 1 @ Winnipeg
Fri, Feb 2 @ Minnesota
Sun, Feb 4 @ Washington
Tue, Feb 6 @ Pittsburgh
Thu, Feb 8 @ San Jose
That’s four home versus 11 road games coming up, with three back-to-back sets when you consider the one closing up tomorrow in Chicago. It’s not fair to say that the Golden Knights are weak on the road, considering their respectable 10-8-1 away record, but they’ve obviously been brilliant at making the most of their home-ice advantage, sporting a ridiculous-even-for-it-being-Vegas 17-2-1 record at home.
Most hockey fans are likely enjoying the ride when it comes to the Golden Knights.
That said, there are others who are “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Those Grinches might get that wish – at least to an extent – during the next month.
If the Golden Knights continue to buck the odds, it will be that much tougher to deny that they’re special, and it’s already increasingly difficult to do so. Even with the occasional setback such as a close loss to St. Louis.