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Breaking down the Golden Knights’ Imagine Dragons curse

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Ever since Las Vegas megaband Imagine Dragons performed on T-Mobile Arena’s ice, the Golden Knights have gone without a regulation win

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two
Imagine Dragons perform in T-Mobile Arena
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Golden Knights are not off to the hottest start this season. In their first five games, they have scored just 10 goals and are 1-4-0 on the season. For the record, that win didn’t come in regulation, either. The Knights had to beat the Minnesota Wild in a shootout to pick up those two points.

Vegas’ less-than-stellar start comes after the Golden Knights lost four straight games in a five-game Stanley Cup Final — not the best way to end a season. But one interesting theory for the Knights’ recent struggles surrounds local Vegas band Imagine Dragons, originally proposed by ESPN’s Dave Lozo.

The record of 1-8-0 is pretty mind-blowing on its own, but things get even weirder. Here are the stats from before (three playoff rounds and Game 1) and after (the rest of the Cup Final and the 2018-19 season) Imagine Dragons’ performance at T-Mobile Arena.

The Imagine Dragons Effect

Imagine Dragons Team Corsi Shot Share Goal Share Scoring Chance HD Chance HD Goal Shot % Save % PDO PP % PK % SP. TEAMS %
Imagine Dragons Team Corsi Shot Share Goal Share Scoring Chance HD Chance HD Goal Shot % Save % PDO PP % PK % SP. TEAMS %
Before 50.41 49.64 65 52.89 48.05 62.86 9.51 0.95 1.05 19.61 82.14 101.75
After 59.58 54.84 35 56.68 57.72 46.15 5.88 0.867 0.926 7.69 68.97 76.66

The team has visibly gotten better in the possession categories — great bumps in shot share, Corsi and high-danger share show the Golden Knights are outplaying their opponents on a consistent basis. That started in the Cup Final. It’s all the luck-based categories where the Golden Knights have plummeted.

Special teams percentage has fallen from 101.75 to 76.66. Neither the penalty kill nor power play have been good enough since Imagine Dragons showed up. With how many bounces need to go right, that could be a part of the curse. The Knights’ PDO has fallen from 1.05 to an insanely low .926. The Knights aren’t getting good enough goaltending nor enough bounces to score.

And it’s not just the team that’s suffering. On an individual level, each player’s shooting percentage, points per game rate and goals per game rate have come crashing down. Well, each player with a few notable exceptions. Let’s go through them.

Colin Miller has seen his points per game rate go up, but only because he was doing poorly compared to his regular season before the performance. Same with Reilly Smith, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Cody Eakin. All of them were due for an improvement, but Eakin only saw it in one category, Bellemare couldn’t go down from zero and Smith has been a better goal scorer (but again, because he was supposed to be).

Nate Schmidt has a limited sample size. And that’s when the really interesting players come in — David Perron, James Neal, Tomas Tatar and Luca Sbisa have all seen improvements, which may be crucial in proving the curse. All of these players have escaped the curse by going to other teams, which have allowed them to get back on fertile ground.

The opposite is true as well. Of Vegas’ free agent acquisitions who have played at least three games, each has seen a plummet in each of the three key categories — points per game, goals per game and shooting percentage. They’ve, in effect, also become cursed.

Is it very likely that this is actually Imagine Dragons’ fault? Probably not. I also don’t tend to believe in magic, but this is a change that isn’t only alarming, but incredibly coincidental.

But let’s say it is Imagine Dragons’ fault. How does Vegas reverse it? Well, there’s a few options there.

Option A: Get the opposite band to play at T-Mobile Arena during the next home game. This becomes about defining what the opposite band is. Is it the opposite of stadium rock, which would be something softer? Is it the opposite side of the critical spectrum, going with someone like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, or getting Pink Floyd to do a laser show?

Or is it a completely different genre? Something like Death Grips, Superorganism, Blood Orange or Ross from Friends? What, exactly, will break this curse, if it does exist? With a young fanbase, the curse may need to be broken before 100-some odd years.

Right now, it just seems like every bounce is going against the Golden Knights. Considering the circumstances, a curse could be within the realm of possibility, especially in sports. There have been weirder sources for a curse than a band.