The Vegas Golden Knights will travel to Edmonton for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although hockey is returning to play, this could come with a slight disadvantage for the Golden Knights, as they will not get the opportunity to play at T-Mobile Arena. (from ‘Las Vegas reportedly misses out on hosting NHL restart,’ Las Vegas Review-Journal, 07/06/2020) Over the years, Vegas has had tremendous success in their home arena, but the factors that led to this will not be prevalent in Edmonton.
Since their inaugural 2017-18 season, the Golden Knights have experienced a home-ice advantage that many teams in the league wish they could boast. Due to their unique location on The Strip, there are numerous distractions for incoming teams. Opponents visiting Las Vegas have to deal with the bright lights, casinos and a city that never stops entertaining.
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Due to the constant entertainment options, traveling to Las Vegas is not like any other road game. Most hotels that teams stay in have casinos and other distractions that could lead players to deviate from their normal routines.
For example, Steven Stamkos, captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, said, “This is, uh, a pretty entertaining city to be in for teams. I can’t speak for other teams, but …”
However, arguably the biggest factor in the Golden Knights success at home is their crowd and arena atmosphere. From on-ice pre-game shows, to an average attendance of 18,310, Vegas offers an intense environment to play in. Throughout their history, the Golden Knights boast a record of 75-33-11 at T-Mobile Arena during the regular season. In the playoffs, Vegas has a home record of 9-4. As it would seem, the Golden Knights would prefer to play in Vegas, even if there are no fans.
The players would have a sense of comfort playing at home, but a slight advantage in knowing the small intricacies of how the boards and glass play as well. Marc-Andre Fleury said, “It’s the best arena to play in, especially during the playoffs,” in 2019.
Playing at a ‘Neutral’ Location
Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers, will be the Western Conference hub arena for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This location could have the biggest effect on the Golden Knights out of all the teams traveling to Edmonton. The first factor to consider is the lack of fans. Due to COVID-19, there will be no fans in attendance at any of the playoff games this season. With Vegas being among the top teams in the league for attendance, this could have a subliminal effect as the players will not be able to feed off of the energy of their home fans.
Traditionally, home-ice advantage means having the last change for shifts in order to capitalize on strategic match-ups. However, Vegas has done everything in its power to make T-Mobile Arena more than that. They have created a flashy, loud and exciting atmosphere to play in. Not having this could hinder the Golden Knights’ performance. A crowd can add a second level of motivation to players with how they react to a big save, hit or scoring chance.
Lastly, there is still a possibility that the Golden Knights will play the Oilers during the playoffs. Although Vegas would be the home team on paper, Rogers Place has not been kind to Vegas in the past. The Golden Knights hold a 2-3-0 record in Edmonton and it is one of the few arenas where they do not have a winning record. If this matchup were to happen, the Oilers would be one of the few teams to have an advantage over the Golden Knights as the site would not truly be neutral.