An NHL season is like cycling through the most challenging course on the Peloton bike… for six months straight. There are homestands, road trips, back-to-backs, and all sorts of weird quirks that pop up because half the teams in the league play in the same stadium as NBA teams.
This year’s Golden Knights schedule is no different, and like every Pacific Division team, there are some high peaks and some low valleys.
October 23 – November 2nd
vs COL, vs ANA, vs MTL, vs WPG
After what is a bit of a tricky opening few weeks of the season riddled with tough opponents, single-game road trips, and a back-t0-back in different time-zones with 750+ miles of travel, the schedule hits its softest spot of the year. Four home games, in an 11-day span against one good team, two okay ones, and a horrible one. The Golden Knights have two days of rest before the Colorado game and then three days prior to Montreal. They even have two more days off after the last of the four-game set. Really, the whole month of October is favorable for Vegas, and if they start it off well, the last week could turn it into one of their best months ever.
February 12th – March 3rd
vs STL, vs NYI, vs WSH, vs TBL, vs FLA, @ANA, vs EDM, vs BUF, vs LAK, NJD
Directly on the heels of the ridiculous 27-day span away from T-Mobile Arena (more on that below), the Golden Knights come home for 10 straight. (Really it’s 9 of 10, but I figure a road game in Anaheim in February is basically a home game.) The opponents are challenging at first, but they ease up majorly as it goes on. There will be 20 points to get here, the Golden Knights should reasonably be after at least 14 of them.
December 29th – January 11th
vs ANA, vs PHI, vs STL, vs PIT, vs LAK, vs CBJ
It’s the longest homestand of the year and the first 7-game homestand since the magical one that opened the inaugural season. Only six games are listed because it starts out with a road-home back-to-back, but there are two off-days behind it. This is about as nice a stretch as you can ask for on a schedule as there’s at least one day between every game and the opponents are all average at best (except for St. Louis). Of course, this is directly before the 27-day monster. It’s almost like the NHL knew they were screwing the Golden Knights, so they tried to make it up to them with two soft spots before and after the nightmare.
January 12th – February 7th
at BUF, at OTT, at MTL, at BOS, at CAR, at NSH, at TBL, at FLA
27 days, 0 games at T-Mobile Arena. Four game road trip, All Star game, bye week, four-game road trip. What an absolute mess of a scheduling quirk this is. The Golden Knights have to fly across the country to Buffalo, then go up into Canada for a few days before heading back to Boston. Then, they have to figure out where to go for nine days during the NHLPA’s mandated “bye week” before they fly back across the country to Carolina, Nashville, Tampa, and Florida. Oh, and to make matters worse, when it’s all over, there’s one home game before they get back on the plane and fly 3,400 miles round trip for a single game in Minnesota. Plus, there’s a back-to-back in there with Carolina and Nashville. The Golden Knights better be in a great spot standings wise heading into this, because a month away from home isn’t the ideal time to pick up points in the playoff race.
March 6th – March 18th
@WPG, @CGY, @EDM, @MIN, @COL
This is a tricky little five-game road trip after the trade deadline. It starts in Winnipeg on a Friday and then there’s a back-to-back in Alberta with Calgary and Edmonton on Sunday and Monday. Then it’s decision time for the Vegas travel staff. Following the game in Edmonton, the Golden Knights have a five-day span where they play just one game… in Minnesota. Stay the whole time in Minneapolis? Head over to Colorado as soon as possible? Heck, they could even come home between Edmonton and Minnesota for a day if they so choose. There will probably be some heavy playoff implications in a few of these games as well.
November 5th – November 10th
@CBJ, @TOR, @WSH, @DET
The final one on the list really isn’t that bad. It’s a four-game trip in reasonably close proximity without a back-to-back and with an extra day off before and after it. The challenge is the teams the Golden Knights are facing on this trip. There’s a contrast in styles, skills, experience, buildings, fan bases, you name it, this trip has a bit of all of it. It doesn’t look that bad on paper, but if Vegas drops the first one (in a place they’ve never won), a four-game losing streak is certainly not out of the picture (especially considering the second game is in a place they are winless as well).
The 8 game span doesn’t seem half as bad when you consider they have a long break in between. Also you never considered where the opposing team is in their schedule. Back to backs, returning from a road trip etc.