NHL.com goes Behind the Numbers to identify key statistics for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today, a look at three key statistics for the Vegas Golden Knights, who went 3-0-0 in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and won their Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks in five games.
The Golden Knights, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, lead the NHL with 22 5-on-5 goals in eight postseason games. Forward Mark Stone leads Vegas with four goals at 5-on-5. Defenseman Shea Theodore and forwards Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch are tied for second with three each. It’s also worth noting that depth forwards William Carrier (two), Tomas Nosek (one), Chandler Stephenson (one), Nicolas Roy (one) and Patrick Brown (one) have each scored at 5-on-5. Forward Max Pacioretty, who missed four of the Golden Knights’ eight postseason games, led them in goals-per-60 minutes (1.17) among those to play at least two games during the regular season and will likely help them maintain their scoring pace if his 1.05 goals per 60 in the postseason reverts closer to his regular-season average.
Vegas is second in the NHL with a plus-137 SAT behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (plus-149). Defenseman Nate Schmidt leads the Golden Knights with a plus-63 SAT and forward William Karlsson is second (plus-58). This bodes well for Vegas because Schmidt is third on the Golden Knights in 5-on-5 time on ice per game (18:01) behind defensemen Theodore (19:20) and Alec Martinez (18:33), and Karlsson is third among Vegas forwards averaging 14:15 per game behind Stone (14:30) and Pacioretty (14:17). This trend dates to the regular season when Vegas led the NHL with a plus-621 SAT in 71 games and Theodore led the NHL with a plus-412 SAT. The Golden Knights are first in SAT behind during the postseason (plus-79) which indicates their ability to control possession when trailing in games, signifying a potential ability to come back. This stat is reflected by the Golden Knights’ two wins when trailing after two periods in the postseason; they are tied with Tampa Bay for first in the NHL.
One area the Golden Knights will be looking to improve is goaltending. It’s a luxury to have two capable No. 1 goalies, Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury, but each has put up mixed numbers. Lehner is 5-1-0 with a .904 save percentage, including a .915 even-strength save percentage. Fleury is 2-0-0 with an .886 save percentage, including an .857 even-strength save percentage. The Golden Knights’ 5-on-5 save percentage (.901) ranks 20th among the 24 teams that made the postseason, leaving some cause for concern. The numbers suggest this may just be an outlier; Lehner’s regular season save percentage was .920, including a .922 even-strength save percentage, and Fleury had a .905 save percentage, including a .915 even-strength save percentage. The numbers suggest that making Lehner the starter gives the Golden Knights the best opportunity to improve their save percentage for a deep run in the playoffs.