Has former Capitals GM George McPhee capitalized on a built-in competitive advantage with his new expansion club?
The Vegas Golden Knights are 25-9-2 in their debut season, and leading the Western Conference, and their respective division, with 52 points. But their 15-2-1 home record — the third-best in the NHL — has a lot to do with it.
In contrast, the Knights are 10-7-1 on the road — still 10th in the league, but not nearly as dominant as they are at home. They have an edge, as home teams should, but is the Vegas atmosphere a contributor, in tempting visiting players to stay out maybe just a bit later than they would on a normal road trip?
“It looks that way,” said Caps center Jay Beagle during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies — ‘The Morning Skate with Jay Beagle,’ sponsored by Sport Automotive — on 106.7 The Fan.
“I mean, honestly. They are a good team. They work hard and they come at you fast,” he said. “But I honestly think… it’s Vegas. Guys aren’t going to bed as early as they’re probably supposed to or usually do.”
The Caps were shut out by the Knights a week ago, but that came on the heels of 3-2 overtime loss in Phoenix the night before.
“Yeah. I mean, we were in and out,” said Beagle. “We got there late anyways from Phoenix, so there was no going out.”
“But, you know, even if guys just go out for dinner and go it a little bit longer than maybe they normally do, I think it definitely is playing a factor, because their home record is unreal,” he said. “They’re a fast, hardworking team, but I think it’s got to be pretty hard to play in Vegas.”
Beagle stopped short, however, of agreeing with the notion that Vegas — as a first-year expansion club — were destined in any way to play horribly in the 2017-18 season.
“Yeah, well, the way the did it though, the way they did the expansion I think this year was really smart,” he said. “It gave them a really good chance right away to be good and be competitive, and we’re seeing that now. It’ll be interesting to play them at home here and see how they are on the road.”