Dawn has broken on a new day and following the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres the team is — wait for it— first place in the Pacific Division!
No, seriously. Look.
It gets even better when you consider that the Golden Knights 5-1-0 record and 10 points is also tied for the second-best record in the NHL behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. Early season standings are ridiculous.
But back to last night. The Golden Knights built up a 4-1 lead midway through the third period and absolutely nothing else interesting happened.
That is, as long as you entirely ignore the three third period Buffalo goals, the last of which came with nine seconds left in the game, the three third-period penalties by the Golden Knights that set up those goals, and the sick overtime snipe by David Perron.
For a full recap on the never-in-doubt 5-4 Vegas overtime victory, head to our recap from last night.
As with every game, there is always something to learn from every Vegas game, win or lose. Here are three things we learned last night, besides not to assume a 4-1 lead is safe. 4-1 leads are never safe.
Malcolm in the Middle
While an .882 save percentage does not jump off the page in the slightest, one could argue this game was a more impressive showing for Malcolm Subban than his near-shutout against the Boston Bruins.
First, he was a perfect 18-for-18 at 5-on-5, and faced a load that would typically result in 1.57 goals allowed, according to Corsica.hockey. Second, hardly any of the goals Subban let in could be pinned solely on him. Maybe the first, but the second, third and fourth were all either due to miscues from the Vegas PK unit or tough bounces.
And, hey, look at that glove!
Results Line vs. Process Line
The Golden Knights first line — by both ice-time and output — has been Perron, Cody Eakin and James Neal, who have now combined to account for 16 points so far this season, five of which came tonight. However, their “process,” as it were, was far from strong. At 5-on-5, this top line was outshot 16-6. They certainly made the most of their limited opportunities, but this is likely just a blip on the radar for these three forwards, as they have been the best on the possession and scoring front all season long.
On the flip side, the fourth line likely played their best game of the year. Despite not putting up any points, the triumvirate of Tomas Nosek, William Carrier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, had perhaps their best game of the season. Bellemare and Carrier specifically gelled quite well and put up a 62.5% Corsi For while they were together on the ice. Carrier, who was playing his former club, put three shots on net in just 8:46 of playing time, including an excellent scoring chance on a breakaway but was stoned by the Sabres’ netminder. The 22-year-old also drew a couple penalties on the night.
More blue line questions
Having too many good players sounds like a nice problem to have, right? Well, with every passing game, the Vegas blue line picture becomes more and more fuzzy. Career AHL’er Brad Hunt has now put together back-to-back performances that suggest he belongs in the starting lineup. The 29-year-old has a team-leading 63.4% Corsi For figure, and has picked up an assist as well as nine shot attempts.
Colin Miller, who also struggled through the first four games of the season, has had great outings of late as well, as has Deryk Engelland, who led the Knights in ice time tonight with 22:21.
Jon Merrill has looked so-so in his two games, while Luca Sbisa, despite his four points, has looked suspect at best. Those two appear to be the weakest links as it stands now, and most likely to be seated in the press box once Shea Theodore is finally called up.
Meanwhile, Griffin Reinhart is somewhere floating in purgatory.