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Golden Knights Are Smoking Eastern Conference Teams At Home, But Struggling On The Road

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

Golden Knights Remain In Decent Position Compared To Former Reigning And Eventual Champions

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have completed exactly half of their title-defending season. They started as hot as hot can be setting the new record for most wins in a row to begin a season for a reigning champion. Then, as injuries started to pile up, they hit the skids a little bit and have fallen to 10th in the league in points percentage.

It hasn’t been pretty for the last month or so, but Vegas still finds themselves in a solid position. At the midway post, the Golden Knights are still clearly in the playoff picture, sitting eight points north of the cut line.

After 41 games, the Golden Knights have a points percentage of .622. It’s the 4th best mark in their seven seasons, slightly below their franchise average of .659 at this point in the year. .622 equates to 102 points at the end of the season, which would be good enough to make the playoffs every single year since the current format has been adopted. And, .622 is the exact average points percentage at the halfway point of the season for the last six Stanley Cup runners-up.

Golden KnightsDefending ChampEventual ChampEventual Runner-Up
22-23 (COL/VGK/FLA).683.549.683.488
21-22 (TBL/COL/TBL).610.720.768.720
20-21 (TBL/TBL/MTL).707.707.707.573
19-20 (STL/TBL/DAL).561.707.643.610
18-19 (WSH/STL/BOS).585.659.463.610
17-18 (PIT/WSH/VGK).732.524.646.732

VGK’s current points percentage has them behind all but one of the last six eventual champions at this point in the season. They are also now well behind where they sat a year ago. In 2022-23 the Golden Knights amassed 57 points through 41 games, six points better than they are right now.

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Recap: The Golden Knights returned home for a two-game set starting with the Washington Capitals. Vegas opened the scoring with an opening period power play goal by Jonathan Marchessault. Vegas took advantage of an early man-advantage and held a 1-0 edge going into the first intermission.

Jack Eichel doubled Vegas’ score to 2-0, picking up his second point of the game. The star center broke out and was able to fool Washington’s goaltender in the second period.

It didn’t take Mark Stone long to extend his club’s lead in the final frame. Eichel dropped a quick pass behind Washington’s net to Vegas’ captain for a nifty, highlight reel goal. The Capitals got themselves on the board in the 3rd period but Marchessault recorded another goal moments later. 

The Golden Knights record improves to 16-5-4 with their 4-1 victory over the Capitals. Vegas will hit the ice again on Monday to take on the St. Louis from T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop against the Blues is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights were just flat out the better team in every area in this game. They spent most of the game on the attack and when the Caps did have it they couldn’t get anywhere near the goal… until it was too late. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals at T-Mobile Arena.

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Recap: The Golden Knights traveled east for a five-game road trip beginning in Washington. The opening period was disrupted by multiple penalties by Vegas. Washington opened the scoring late in the period to carry a 1-0 advantage into the first intermission.

Vegas went down a man in the middle frame after Paul Cotter was ejected for a check to the head misconduct. Vegas successfully killed off Cotter’s five-minute major but their offense couldn’t get going. After 40 minutes the Capitals held on to a 1-0 lead.

The reigning Stanley Cup champions continued to miss opportunities in the final frame and failed to come up with the tying goal. The Capitals tacked on two insurance goals in the final minute to seal the game.

The Golden Knights record drops to 12-3-1 losing 3-0 to the Capitals. Vegas will next face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Puck drop against the Canadiens is set for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights had every sort of chance you can possibly create in a hockey game. They just couldn’t execute any of them to beat Charlie Lindgren. For all the games where VGK felt they didn’t play their best and won, this is one where they played pretty darn well and lost. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena.

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5 Most Anticipated Road Games

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the reigning champions, every single road game this season will be a special occasion for the opposition. No matter how things are going, the Golden Knights will be a measuring stick game for every single team. Of the 41 road games this year, here are the five I’m looking forward to most.

5) November 14th, 2023 at Washington

The game itself is not all that exciting, or at least on paper it’s not. But, the Golden Knights have three days off before this game so it will almost certainly be their chance to visit the White House.

Politics aside, it’s always been a really neat tradition to see the champions of each league make the visit. It typically results in a funny comment or two from the sitting president and a chance to see the players a bit out of their element.

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Vegas Versus The Mighty Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

All season long the eyes of the hockey world have been on the Eastern Conference. Based on performance and deep lineups the odds suggest an Eastern Conference team will be named the 2023 Stanley Cup champion. Through 67 games, the Golden Knights are making analysts, computer models, insiders, and pundits rethink their position.

On Saturday, Vegas casually shut out the high-powered Carolina Hurricanes to record the team’s 20th victory against the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night in Philadelphia they can add to that total.

VGK vs the Eastern Conference (30 Games)

  • .700 Points Percentage
  • 3.45 Goals Scored Per Game
  • 2.70 Goals Allowed Per Game
  • Shutout CAR, 1 Goal Allowed vs TOR
  • Jack Eichel vs East: 26 Points (13G, 13A)

Left on the schedule from the East are the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vegas will likely be a sizable favorite in both games. In 30 eastern matchups the Golden Knights would have a total of of 44 cross-conference credits. That’s 47% of Vegas’ 88 total points. Talk about flipping the script.

The message the Golden Knights sent to the East this season has been loud and it’s been heard.

They’re a good team. They hunker down in front and we knew that coming in. That got us behind the eight ball. In the 2nd period we weren’t very good, but we didn’t give up much. Just one bad bounce and it was a breakaway. Then we were down two. We had a good 3rd. We pushed, we just couldn’t get one by them. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach

Not only did the Golden Knights blank the Hurricanes, they also held the Toronto Maple Leafs to one goal back in October. On top off sweeping the Canes and Leafs, Vegas did the same to the Canadiens, Capitals, Lightning, and Senators in their two-game sets.

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Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Washington Capitals looking to break their three-game losing streak. Vegas’ offense came out hot scoring two goals in the opening 7:36 of the game. Alec Martinez wristed in his 1st goal of the season and Nic Roy added his 9th. After 20 minutes the Golden Knights carried a 2-0 lead into the 1st intermission.

Vegas’ offensive continued firing in the middle frame. Michael Amadio, Byron Froese and Paul Cotter all scored 2nd period goals to give the Golden Knights a commanding 5-0 advantage. The Capitals scored late in the period to break up Logan Thompson’s shutout bid. After 40 minutes the local team took a 5-1 lead into the third period.

Cotter tallied his second goal of the game to regain VGK’s five-goal edge. However, the Capitals got one back later in the frame. The Golden Knights ended their three-game with a 6-2 victory over the Capitals.

The Golden Knights’ record improves to 29-16-2 defeating the Capitals 6-2. Vegas will hit the road for the next six games beginning tomorrow in Arizona. Puck drop against the Coyotes is scheduled for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights came out and smoked the Capitals from the second the puck dropped. VGK flew through the neutral zone opening up plenty of chances off the rush and extended zone time. Defensively the gap control was excellent keeping the Capitals from being able to generate much of anything until the game was well in hand. Excellent game from VGK (also a horrendous game from Washington.) (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals at T-Mobile Arena.

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