The Vegas Golden Knights are a National Hockey League expansion team no more. With the NHL Awards completed for the 2017-2018 season, it’s time to move on to the second year for the Stanley Cup runners-up. In that spirit, the team announced its regular-season schedule for the 2018-2019 season this week, and although full season-ticket packages are sold out, the team will have individual game tickets on sale at a later date.
T-Mobile Arena is sure to be rocking it once again in the fall when the Golden Knights open the defense of their Pacific Division and Western Conference championships against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first game of the season on Oct. 4. Unlike last season when Vegas opened with two straight road games before starting the home slate, this year will feature a definite must-see event on the Las Vegas Strip on Opening Night in the NHL.
The Golden Knights, like last season, do close the season on the road again, playing the final game of the season down Interstate 15 against the Los Angeles Kings on April 6 at STAPLES Center. However, instead of having to play their final three games on the road like last year, the Vegas squad plays the penultimate game of the season at home, as well as the game before that, too.
As the team enters the offseason with some free-agent questions and a renewed focus on winning the Stanley Cup, next year promises to be just as exciting as the first season. Here are the highlights for the Golden Knights schedule for 2018-2019:
• A five-game homestand in October: Although Vegas opens at home, the team immediately goes on the road for five games after that. However, when the Golden Knights return, they get five straight at home themselves. Buffalo, Anaheim, Vancouver, Tampa Bay, and Ottawa come calling. The Ducks finished second in the Pacific Division last year, as Vegas busted their five-season stranglehold on the division crown. Anaheim is sure to want that back in 2018-2019. Somewhat similarly, the Golden Knights swept the Lightning last season, which may have kept them from claiming the Presidents’ Trophy. Get used to that theme, as a lot of teams are going to be targeting Vegas for some kind of revenge.
• November on the road: Of the 15 games the Golden Knights are scheduled to play in November, only five of them will be at home. The toughest road stretch comes early in the month with four straight games away from T-Mobile Arena in Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, and Boston, respectively. The last two games are on back-to-back nights, which will be especially tough with the travel. If Vegas can survive the month of November with a winning record, the team should be in good position to repeat its first-season successes.
• Spending the holidays at home: The reward for November’s road weariness is getting to stay at home on both Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. The Golden Knights play four consecutive games at home from Dec. 20-27, and even though they travel to play the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 30, the team is right back home a New Year’s Day game against the Kings. For a team like Vegas, that has such a connection to its local fans, this was a nice touch by the NHL scheduling office to keep the boys at home for the holiday season as much as possible.
• Jumpstarting January with seven home games: There are only ten games on the scheduled total in the month, thanks to the NHL All-Star break. The Golden Knights get seven of them at home, including that Jan.1 date against Los Angeles. The New Year is always revitalizing for everyone, and Vegas will find some extra jump on the ice by minimizing travel early on in the season. The only road games are in Anaheim, Chicago, and Winnipeg, so the team gets to avoid any long-haul flights to the East Coast in the dead of winter.
• Home is where the heart is in February, too: With 13 games in February, the Golden Knights got a Valentine’s Day gift from the league schedulers with eight games at T-Mobile Arena. The crazy part is that the first four games of the month are on the road, coming out of the All-Star break. After playing in Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, and Detroit, the Vegas team comes home to finish the final nine games of the month mostly at home in the desert. The only road game in that final stretch of the month is a quick jaunt to Colorado on Feb. 18.
• Pacific Division showdowns in March: Of the 14 games in the month, the Golden Knights will play eight of them against division opponents. This could be where the Pacific title is decided as Vegas takes on Anaheim, Calgary (twice), Edmonton, San Jose (twice), and Vancouver (twice) throughout the month. Five of those division-rivalry matchups are on the road, including both games against the Sharks—who may be out for blood after losing to the Golden Knights in the second round of last season’s playoffs.
What stands out the most is this simple fact: Of the first 36 games on the schedule, the Golden Knights will play just 14 of them at home. That means in the final 46 games of the season schedule, Vegas will be at T-Mobile Arena for 27 of them. When playoff positioning is on the line late in the season, every home game will be pretty important.