The Vegas Golden Knights reach the halfway point of their first NHL season when they play the New York Rangers at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, MSG+, NHL.TV).
To say a team that didn't exist a year ago is off to the greatest start for any first-year team in League history is an understatement.
Comparing the Golden Knights to the nine teams that have entered the NHL since 1991, they've already won more games in their first half-season than the Minnesota Wild (25 in 2000-01), Ottawa Senators (10 in 1992-93), Tampa Bay Lightning (23 in 1992-93), Atlanta Thrashers (14 in 1999-2000; the franchise is now the Winnipeg Jets) and San Jose Sharks (17 in 1991-92) managed in their inaugural seasons. They'll also pass the Columbus Blue Jackets (28 in 2000-01) and Nashville Predators (28 in 1998-99) if they win Sunday.
Video: Breaking down Vegas' win over Chicago
Vegas could surpass the record for wins by a team in its first NHL season, held by the 1993-94 Florida Panthers (33-34-17) and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (33-46-5) before the All-Star break. The Golden Knights also look like a lock to pass the Panthers' mark for points (83 in 84 games).
They're also a good bet to become the first team to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in its inaugural season since 1967, when the six teams added in the League played in their own division and four advanced to the postseason. The 1993-94 Panthers came the closest since then, finishing one point behind the fourth-place New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference.
Vegas is winning in all kinds of ways.
The Golden Knights are the NHL's best home team (17-2-1, .850 winning percentage). But they they're also tied for fifth with 11 road wins and have victories at the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks (twice) and Dallas Stars (twice). They're also 7-0-0 against the four conference finalists from last season.
The Golden Knights are the NHL's best team at winning when scoring first (18-1-0, .947). They also have the League's second-best winning percentage when allowing the first goal (10-9-2, .476), own a League-best .400 winning percentage (4-5-1) when trailing after two periods and are 6-0 in games decided in 3-on-3 overtime, the best record in the NHL.
Islanders playing from behind too much
Ask any NHL coach and he'll tell you that playing from behind ("chasing the game") is a tough way to win. The Islanders are living proof.
The Islanders have been among the NHL's best teams when they score the first goal of a game; their .928 winning percentage (13-1-0) is second to the Golden Knights. The problem for the Islanders is that in their first 42 games, they scored first 14 times, the fewest in the League.
In contrast, they began Sunday leading the NHL in allowing the first goal; it's happened 28 times and in those games they are 7-17-4, a .250 winning percentage that's below the League average of .300. Only the League-leading Tampa Bay Lightning (10-5-3, .555) are over .500 when allowing the first goal in a game; the Islanders are 23rd.
The Islanders entered Sunday having allowed a League-high 47 goals in the first period, six more than any other team, and 58 in the second period, also the most in the NHL (the Ottawa Senators were next with 56). Twelve of those 58 goals came in their four games during the past week; New York lost all four.
PK's not OK
The Islanders are also struggling to kill penalties; they entered Sunday 30th in the League at 73.1 percent and last at 68.6 percent on the road. The only team behind them, the Edmonton Oilers, started the day at 70.9 percent.
But the Oilers have the opposite problem, they can't kill penalties at home.
Edmonton has allowed 29 goals on 65 opposition power plays in its 22 games at Rogers Place; its 55.4 penalty-killing percentage at home is a distant last in the NHL (the Philadelphia Flyers are next-worst at 69.5 percent). No team has finished worse than 70 percent at home since 2008-09, when the Toronto Maple Leafs killed 69.4 percent.