The Vegas Golden Knights had some possibly apocryphal help on their improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals last season, a sizable edge at home that some attributed to a mystery illness often contracted in smoke-filled casinos and nightclubs: the dreaded Vegas Flu. While few NHL players would freely admit to overindulging in Las Vegas’s social scene during their inaugural in-season trips to the desert, the fact remains that the Golden Knights won 29 of their 41 home games during the 2017-18 regular season, shattering the NHL record for home wins by an expansion team (22 by the 1979-80 Hartford Whalers). Only the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins had more victories on home ice last season.
Vegas has continued to win at an impressive home clip this year, taking eight of its first 12 games at T-Mobile Arena, among them a 5-3 victory over the Caps on Tuesday night. But a new NHL bug has popped up this season, this one affecting the Golden Knights' opponents the game after they play in Vegas: the dreaded Vegas Hangover.
As noted earlier this week by Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who coined the phrase, NHL teams are a horrific 1-8-2 in their next game after playing the Golden Knights in Vegas this season, losing by a combined 44-18. This includes a strong showing by the one team that avoided the Vegas Hangover: Two days after losing to the Golden Knights on Nov. 23, the Flames traveled to Arizona and scored a 6-1 blowout win. Everyone else has lost, getting outscored 43-12.
Among the lowlights:
— One day after a 3-2 road win over the Knights on Oct. 26, the Tampa Bay Lightning (who have an NHL-high 43 points) suffered a 6-1 loss to the Coyotes.
— The newly good Sabres lost 5-1 to the Sharks two days after their 6-1 defeat in Las Vegas on Oct. 16.
— The Blues followed a 4-1 win at the Knights with a 4-0 loss at the Sharks on Nov. 17.
— The Ducks have contributed two losses to the Vegas Hangover, both of them at home: A 4-2 loss to the Sabres and a 2-1 loss to the Leafs.
The Vegas Hangover wasn’t much of a thing last season, with NHL teams going 20-17-4 in their post-Vegas games.
The Caps will look to avoid becoming the Vegas Hangover’s latest victim on Thursday night against the Coyotes in Arizona. According to Post scribe Isabelle Khurshudyan, the team departed Las Vegas immediately after Tuesday night’s game, perhaps to stave off any lingering effects of the city’s most-known industry (though it’s also common practice for NHL teams to do this).
For what it’s worth, Washington lost its post-Vegas game during last year’s regular season, suffering a 1-0 shootout loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in December, though there was a four-day break between games that also included Christmas Day.
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