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Can any other NHL team top Golden Knights’ near-perfect homestand?

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The remarkable thing about the Vegas Golden Knights is that their achievements transcend “great for an expansion team.”

After going 8-1-0 after a 7-0 throttling of the Colorado Avalanche, they’re absolutely in the mix as one of the best teams in the NHL so far in this young 2017-18 season. (For more on their latest win, check out this post.)

There’s even a highly specific thing they might have mastered better than any team will this season: a near-perfect, long homestand. The Golden Knights won six of seven games on a homestand that just completed, passing this test with flying colors.

As with many Cinderella stories in sports, there is an opportunity for that “record scratch” moment coming soon: the Golden Knights play six in a row and eight of their next nine games on the road. The standings might balance themselves out as their schedule does.

This post asks a different question, though: can any other team match or exceed what the Golden Knights accomplished? There are a lot of six-game homestands out there, and long runs, but not a ton of home runs of seven-or-more. For the sake of brevity, this little thought experiment will keep things very specific: these runs must include at least seven home games in a row.

Let’s take a look at the handful of teams who have a chance, and allow this to be a reminder of just how special this accomplishment is for the Golden Knights. (If this post misses any home runs that exceed seven games and haven’t happened yet, drop a line or a comment.)

Calgary Flames: In falling 2-1 to the Dallas Stars on Friday, the Flames began a seven-game homestand on a sour note.

They’ll need to win six in a row, then, to match what Vegas just did. One thing in their favor: no back-to-back sets during this run of home cooking.

Winnipeg Jets: If my eyes don’t deceive me, the Jets boast the longest homestand of this season (or at least the longest one that remains on the schedule). From Jan. 30 – Feb. 20, the Jets play a whopping 10 straight games at home.

It’s amusing to compare two strong but polar opposite home-ice advantages: Vegas vs. Winnipeg in the bitterest months of winter.

Arizona Coyotes: From Feb. 15 through March 3, the Coyotes will enjoy a seven-game run at home. They also play nine of 10 in Arizona stretching back to Feb. 10.

The undeniable question hanging over all of that is: will they be in any real position to take advantage of that stretch, or will they be more interested in the trade deadline around that time?

Carolina Hurricanes: Here’s hoping that locals start to notice something rather interesting forming with the Hurricanes by early 2018 at the latest.

Starting on Jan. 30, the Hurricanes play eight straight (and 11 of 12) at home. For all we know, this could be the stretch that pushes them from middle-of-the-pack to the exciting, rising club many picture in their heads when they note the slew of talented, young players on that roster.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have an eight-game homestand from March 3-20, also playing 10 of 11 in Tampa Bay from Feb. 26 – March 20. If the Bolts are playing anywhere near as well then as they are now, they might just provide themselves a big enough cushion to contemplate resting stars like Steven Stamkos a bit in late March or early April.

***

There are plenty of teams that play a staggering majority of their games at home during certain stretches, but only a few qualify for the specific task of trying to top what Vegas just accomplished.

You can bet that PHT will keep an eye on the peaks and valleys that all 31 NHL teams face in their respective schedules. Sometimes a run to the playoffs could come down to harvesting these opportunities or wasting them amid slumps.

The Golden Knights have a long way to go before the playoffs become a truly realistic goal, but they’ve already accomplished a lot, including possibly enjoying the most successful homestand of any NHL team in 2017-18.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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Players of the night:

Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

Highlights of the night: 

The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

Factoids of the Night:

King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

Suspensions of the Night: 

Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.

Scores:

Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

Rangers 3, Senators 0

Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

Ducks 3, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

“He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.