Can any other NHL team top Golden Knights’ near-perfect homestand?
The remarkable thing about the Vegas Golden Knights is that their achievements transcend “great for an expansion team.”
After going 8-1-0 after a 7-0 throttling of the Colorado Avalanche, they’re absolutely in the mix as one of the best teams in the NHL so far in this young 2017-18 season. (For more on their latest win, check out this post.)
There’s even a highly specific thing they might have mastered better than any team will this season: a near-perfect, long homestand. The Golden Knights won six of seven games on a homestand that just completed, passing this test with flying colors.
As with many Cinderella stories in sports, there is an opportunity for that “record scratch” moment coming soon: the Golden Knights play six in a row and eight of their next nine games on the road. The standings might balance themselves out as their schedule does.
This post asks a different question, though: can any other team match or exceed what the Golden Knights accomplished? There are a lot of six-game homestands out there, and long runs, but not a ton of home runs of seven-or-more. For the sake of brevity, this little thought experiment will keep things very specific: these runs must include at least seven home games in a row.
Let’s take a look at the handful of teams who have a chance, and allow this to be a reminder of just how special this accomplishment is for the Golden Knights. (If this post misses any home runs that exceed seven games and haven’t happened yet, drop a line or a comment.)
Calgary Flames: In falling 2-1 to the Dallas Stars on Friday, the Flames began a seven-game homestand on a sour note.
They’ll need to win six in a row, then, to match what Vegas just did. One thing in their favor: no back-to-back sets during this run of home cooking.
Winnipeg Jets: If my eyes don’t deceive me, the Jets boast the longest homestand of this season (or at least the longest one that remains on the schedule). From Jan. 30 - Feb. 20, the Jets play a whopping 10 straight games at home.
It’s amusing to compare two strong but polar opposite home-ice advantages: Vegas vs. Winnipeg in the bitterest months of winter.
Arizona Coyotes: From Feb. 15 through March 3, the Coyotes will enjoy a seven-game run at home. They also play nine of 10 in Arizona stretching back to Feb. 10.
The undeniable question hanging over all of that is: will they be in any real position to take advantage of that stretch, or will they be more interested in the trade deadline around that time?
Carolina Hurricanes: Here’s hoping that locals start to notice something rather interesting forming with the Hurricanes by early 2018 at the latest.
Starting on Jan. 30, the Hurricanes play eight straight (and 11 of 12) at home. For all we know, this could be the stretch that pushes them from middle-of-the-pack to the exciting, rising club many picture in their heads when they note the slew of talented, young players on that roster.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have an eight-game homestand from March 3-20, also playing 10 of 11 in Tampa Bay from Feb. 26 - March 20. If the Bolts are playing anywhere near as well then as they are now, they might just provide themselves a big enough cushion to contemplate resting stars like Steven Stamkos a bit in late March or early April.
There are plenty of teams that play a staggering majority of their games at home during certain stretches, but only a few qualify for the specific task of trying to top what Vegas just accomplished.
You can bet that PHT will keep an eye on the peaks and valleys that all 31 NHL teams face in their respective schedules. Sometimes a run to the playoffs could come down to harvesting these opportunities or wasting them amid slumps.
The Golden Knights have a long way to go before the playoffs become a truly realistic goal, but they’ve already accomplished a lot, including possibly enjoying the most successful homestand of any NHL team in 2017-18.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.