The Golden Knights began what has turned into a season-long, eight-game homestand Dec. 31 with the most points in the Western Conference.
Six games in, they’ve gone backward. They’ve picked up six points to slide into third entering Friday’s games. Surging fourth-place Colorado has a chance to pass them Friday or Saturday, and sixth-place Minnesota is four points behind with six games in hand.
The Knights haven’t performed as well at home as in past years, and it’s something they hope to correct in their next two games at T-Mobile Arena.
“You can’t go searching for excuses, because every team in this league can come into a building and win, and that’s why there’s so much importance on making sure you take care of business at home,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said.
The Knights are tied for the most home games played in the NHL with 23. They’re also tied for the ninth-most points at home with 26.
Their 12-9-2 record and .565 points percentage at T-Mobile Arena rank 20th in the league. The Knights have never had worse than the eighth-best home record. Previously, their worst points percentage at T-Mobile was .646 in their second season in 2018-19.
Diagnosing the problem is a lot easier than coming up with the solution. The Knights did drop three of their first four home games without their two leading scorers from last season, right wing Mark Stone and left wing Max Pacioretty. Both were injured in the second game of the season Oct. 14 in Los Angeles.
Adversity during the current homestand is also partly to blame for the team’s 2-2-2 stretch. The Knights lost to Toronto in a shootout Tuesday without Pacioretty (wrist surgery), left wing William Carrier (upper-body injury), backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit (upper-body injury), centers Nicolas Roy and Nolan Patrick (COVID-19 protocol) and defensemen Nic Hague (wrist injury), Shea Theodore (COVID-19 protocol) and Alec Martinez (wrist injury and upper-body injury).
Whitecloud still didn’t let the team off the hook for its recent results.
“You don’t let anyone come into your house and take two points from you,” he said. “We want to do a good job because the fans come out every night and support us.”
The Knights believe some things will even out.
Coach Pete DeBoer pointed out that the team has the fourth-ranked road power play and the 27th-ranked home one. That’s a trend that’s unlikely to continue.
“It’s not that bad, and it’s not that good,” DeBoer said. “It’s somewhere in between.”
Whether things normalize enough to get the Knights’ home record to its usual heights remains to be seen. The team has two more opportunities to get on track before beginning a four-game trip Jan. 24 in Washington.
The eventual change of scenery might be a blessing in disguise. While the Knights are trying to re-establish home-ice advantage, their .688 points percentage on the road is the second-best in the NHL.
“For us, we want to pick up our home-ice advantage here a little more and continue forward with our away play,” right wing Keegan Kolesar said.