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Playoff Push for Vegas Golden Knights: Potential First-Round Opponents and Challenges

Published March 26, 2023 at 11:23
BY JULIEN TREKKER

The Vegas Golden Knights face a nerve-wracking final push for the playoffs with only nine regular-season games left. This year, they narrowly lead the Pacific Division and have a comfortable cushion among the Western Conference postseason participants.

The Golden Knights are just four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and six points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, led by 60-goal scorer Connor McDavid. Six of their remaining games are against Pacific Division rivals, including a crucial home-and-home against Edmonton.

Although numerous postseason scenarios exist, it's more likely that the Golden Knights will make the playoffs. Here's a guide to the potential first-round opponents and the challenges they present.

Playoff Push for Vegas Golden Knights: Potential First-Round Opponents and Challenges




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Winnipeg Jets



The Jets, with a 7-10-2 record since mid-February, have faltered recently. Despite their struggles, they could pose a tricky playoff match-up for the Golden Knights, particularly if Mark Stone remains out of the Vegas lineup.

Seattle Kraken



A match-up between the Golden Knights and the Kraken would pit two expansion franchises against each other. The Kraken, currently in the first wild-card slot, have a similarly balanced roster as the Golden Knights. Seattle's balanced attack, led by Jared McCann's 34 goals, could present defensive challenges. However, the Kraken's thin blue line and inconsistent goaltending tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones could be red flags come playoff time.

Los Angeles Kings



The possibility of Jonathan Quick, recently acquired by the Golden Knights, facing off against his former team, the Los Angeles Kings, adds an exciting dimension to a potential playoff series between these division rivals. The Kings' veteran core, including Kevin Fiala, Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe, and Drew Doughty, provide a solid foundation. However, their reliance on journeyman Pheonix Copley in net could be a vulnerability.

Edmonton Oilers



With Jack Eichel on the Golden Knights and Connor McDavid leading the Oilers, a playoff series between these teams would showcase two of the top picks from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Although the Oilers have high-end talent with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they've struggled to achieve sustained playoff success. The Oilers have won just three playoff series during McDavid's seven NHL seasons, and their vulnerability to physical play was exposed last season by the Colorado Avalanche.

The addition of Mattias Ekholm at the deadline has bolstered the Oilers' defensive toughness, but questions surrounding their goaltending remain. Despite their obvious talent, the Oilers still have much to prove in the postseason.

As the Western Conference playoff field remains wide open, all potential matchups present unique challenges for the Golden Knights. However, with a veteran-heavy roster and an experienced head coach, Vegas has a solid chance in any series. The primary focus now is securing their spot in the playoffs and preparing to face whichever opponent awaits them in the first round.

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March 26   |   146 answers
Playoff Push for Vegas Golden Knights: Potential First-Round Opponents and Challenges

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