Now that playing at home appears to be on the fritz, the Golden Knights will turn their attention to playing in Western Canada, where it appears they’ll stay if they have success early in the playoffs.
With Edmonton and Toronto being chosen as the two NHL Hub cities, the question most often asked now is, which of the two will play host to the Stanley Cup final and Conference finals?
The answer, apparently, is Edmonton.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 2, 2020
Vegas will have the ability to set up shop in Alberta and stay for the entirety of the postseason, or however long they last. That shouldn’t be an advantage considering the oddities surrounding this format, but the raw numbers suggest staying west could benefit the Golden Knights.
Overall, the Golden Knights proved for a third straight season that they were a Western Conference challenger. Unsurprisingly, when on the road, they’re at their best when playing inside Pacific Division buildings.
VGK at Pacific Division
19-20: 7-3-1 (.682)
18-19: 9-5-1 (.633)
17:18 – 10-3-2 (.733)
Total: 26-11-4 (.683)
VGK at Central Division
19-20: 3-4-0 (.429)
18-19: 4-6-0 (.400)
17-18: 4-5-1 (.450)
Total: 11-15-1 (.426)
VGK at Eastern Conference
19-20: 7-6-3 (.531)
18-19: 6-9-1 (.406)
17-18: 8-6-2 (.563)
Total: 21-21-6 (.500)
The numbers really skew against the Golden Knights when you take into account who they were playing. Most of the wins were against the below-average Eastern conference teams as seven of the nine losses came at the hands of East playoff teams.
With the regular season over, points percentage no longer matters. When you only look at wins and losses, it’s visible Vegas struggled in Atlantic and Metropolitan buildings. So playing exclusively in a Western Conference, specifically a Pacific Division, arena could give the team a small boost.
Not to bring up bad memories, but two years the Golden Knights traveled East to play a really important series and things didn’t go so well in Washington. Not only did Vegas fall into a 3-1 series deficit but they were outscored 9-3 in the two games. Of course, things were different (or normal) then because there were 18 thousand Capitals diehards in the building.
Stepping back for a minute, it’s a neutral site so some of the disadvantages for Vegas can be ripped up. We only have numbers to show how the Golden Knights fared against the Eastern Conference and inside their own buildings. So chances are their low winning percentage against those teams would improve at a neutral sheet of ice anyway.
While the travel to Edmonton really shouldn’t hinder the two teams departing Toronto, there will still be timezone and ice adjustments that the western winner won’t have to deal with. Sure, it’s only a two-hour shuffle but if Vegas is still alive by the conference finals they’ll be situated in the mountain time zone for more than a month, not to mention having playing multiple series at Rogers Place. These might be minuscule advantages but if the Golden Knights get to the Cup Final, you’d rather have them than be facing them.