Exactly half of the NHL’s 32 teams only get to travel to the greatest city in the world one time a year to play a hockey game. Typically in front of a throng of their own fans, you’d think they want to make the most of it by playing a great game against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Well, that hasn’t been the case so far here in 2023-24.
With last night’s drubbing of the current Metro Division-leading New York Rangers, the Golden Knights have now improved to 7-2-0 against the Eastern Conference at home this year. The win is VGK’s third straight against the East and the second consecutive against division leaders.
The Golden Knights have outscored their out-of-conference foes by a score of 31-21 and they have posted 3+ goal victories in five of the nine games at T-Mobile Arena.
On the flip side, the East has not been kind to the Golden Knights away from home. Vegas has traveled to the other side of the country twice this year to play a total of seven games. The Golden Knights are just 1-5-1 and are currently on a five-game losing streak.
Where VGK have a +10 goal differential against the East at home they are -13 on the road. The Golden Knights offense has been muted away from home as they score a full goal per game less (3.4 at home, 2.4 on road).
There’s good news and bad news with this trend on the upcoming schedule. The good news, the next game is at home against an Eastern Conference rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens shut the Golden Knights out in Pittsburgh earlier this year and the game wasn’t particularly competitive. However, Washington did the same thing, and when they came to Vegas, the Golden Knights thrashed them 4-1.
The bad news is that the last four games before the All Star break are all on the road against Eastern Conference teams. To make matters worse, they are scheduled as a pair of back-to-backs. The Golden Knights are 1-2-1 on the second leg of back-to-backs including that shutout to the Penguins.
VGK are playing much better over the past few games, being led by strong goaltending and an offensive resurgence from the captain. They are in a solid position as it currently stands in the playoff chase, but with the teams charging behind them, these next five games will go a long way toward setting the tone for the long break that follows them.