There’s a clear division of talent in the Honda West. There’s an obvious top three, a middle two, and a lowly bottom three. Things appeared closer working through the division-specific schedule, but the book is officially out following Wednesday night’s slate of games.
Both Los Angeles and San Jose looked dejected, ready for the season to end, and under-gunned. Neither team could get anything going and it got hard to watch at multiple points of the game. Vegas did their damage with the bottom six, driven by goals from Keegan Kolesar, Dylan Sikura (2), and William Carrier.
Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota have set themselves apart from the rest of the division. Vegas is done for the season and locked in at 82 points. Good for first, for now. Colorado trails by two points with one game left to play.
If Colorado wins, they’ll move into an 82-point tie with the Golden Knights. That will give them a Division Championship, as owner’s of the Regulation Wins tiebreaker. Minnesota is guaranteed third place, trailing with 75 points and a game remaining. They are now waiting to see who they’ll face in the first round.
Meanwhile, all eyes in Vegas will be on the Avalanche and Kings Thursday evening. A Kings win gives the Golden Knights the first seed, the presidents trophy and a matchup with the Blues in the first round of the playoffs.
How much do the matchups matter? Well I’m glad you asked.
Vegas vs Minnesota:
Vegas vs St. Louis:
Colorado vs Minnesota:
Colorado vs St. Louis:
Minnesota vs Vegas:
Minnesota vs Colorado:
St. Louis vs Vegas:
St. Louis vs Colorado:
One look at the data shows that the Golden Knights really want that top seed to draw the Blues. The Avalanche have had success against both clubs as they are more accustomed to them coming from the old Central division.
Tonight, the Wild will be cheering on the Avalanche, while the Golden Knights root for the Kings. The Blues will be frantically figuring out how to beat either of the top two teams. They had to make a late surge just to fight off the surprisingly dangerous Coyotes.
Those Coyotes were in the coveted fourth spot before falling off after a horrible (3-6-0) nine-game road trip late in the season. That road trip may have cost Head Coach Rick Tocchet his job.
Both the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche were in must-win scenarios against the lower third of the division on Wednesday night. Entrenched in their battle for the top seed, both clubs made statements in their matching 6-0 shutout victories.
An even bigger statement was made last night following the Avalanche game, by their Head Coach Jared Bednar. He announced that he wouldn’t start Philip Grubauer in the second game of the back-to-back.
Does he trust his backup that much? Is he unfazed by the Kings? Does he not care what seed they take? Is it the ultimate level of confidence? All very interesting questions to ponder.
Depending on the outcome of tonight’s game, the Golden Knights will start their playoff on Sunday or Monday and play game two at home on Tuesday or Wednesday, respectively.
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