Anaheim Ducks fly into Sin City on game day to avoid 'Vegas Flu'

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The Ducks skipped the morning skate to fly into Vegas on Monday, hours before puck drop. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The Ducks skipped the morning skate to fly into Vegas on Monday, hours before puck drop. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Whether you believe in the power of The Strip’s bright lights or not, there’s no denying that the infamous ‘Vegas Flu’ has people shook.

The Golden Knights have posted a 22-4-2 record at home in their first season, already tying the Hartford Whalers for most wins from a first-year club. When the Anaheim Ducks role into T-Mobile Arena for Monday night’s clash, they will try to avoid becoming the latest victim on the wrong side of yet another piece of Golden Knights history.

With that in mind, Anaheim made some alterations to their travel schedule to ensure the team will be in its best, non-hungover state to face the league-leading Vegas squad. Rather than flying in the day before — Sunday evening in this case — the Ducks flew in to Vegas on Monday morning, just hours before puck drop.

It’s not completely unheard of for teams to travel to a visiting city on the same day as the game, but it is extremely rare. Jet lag, fatigue, and the allure of a game-day routine are the most common reasons for the standard travel protocol that is prevalent in the league today. But, as the Golden Knights have proven with its historic home record to date, the old way of doing things hasn’t yielded results for teams headed to Sin City.

T-Mobile arena, where the party never stops for the NHL’s No. 1 team. (AP Photo/David Becker)
T-Mobile arena, where the party never stops for the NHL’s No. 1 team. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The Ducks, in this instance, went full-out with their travel tactics. Anaheim won a contest in Minnesota on Saturday and, rather than going straight to Vegas, the team headed back to Cali and practiced at its facility in Anaheim on Sunday night, according to Ducks beat reporter Eric Stephens. Whether the ploy is to help avoid the temptations of the Vegas Strip, or simply to grab a good night’s rest at home, the Ducks appear to be the first club who have attemped the ole’ fly-in-on-game-day tactic against the Knights this season.

Other clubs around the league have tried different ways to avoid being plagued by the Vegas Flu — a strange illness that effects road teams who get caught up in the haze of the City’s party scene. One of the most creative attempts to crack the Golden Knights’ home dominance was crafted by Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Torterella, who rather aggressively chose to fly into Vegas several days before their scheduled game and even encouraged his troops to have some fun.

“I want ’em to go out. I think playing guilty is a big part of being a really good player in the National Hockey League,” Tortorella said last month.  For those who aren’t quite as savvy with the lingo, to “play guilty” really means to play hungover and, as creative as the method was from Torts, it resulted in a 6-3 Blue Jackets loss.

With the three previous meetings between the Knights and the Ducks going Vegas’ way, you can’t blame the Ducks for trying something new.

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