The NHL is often justifiably criticized for its tone-deaf stubbornness in how it does its business. But when it comes to their handling of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights they totally got it right. The league knew Vegas had to be competitive to get off on the right track in a new market. Vegas went beyond merely competitive to become champions of the Pacific Division. Now the Golden Knights face a veteran Los Angeles Kings team in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both teams have battle tested Stanley Cup champion goaltenders. An instant rivalry appears to be born.
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Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings
Date and Time: Series Opens Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 10 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada and Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
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Golden Knights vs. Kings TV Coverage: Check Listings
The Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights will open their best of seven Western Conference playoff series on Wednesday, April 11 at 10 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Game two is also in Sin City on Friday, April 13 at 10 p.m. ET. The Series then turns to Staples Center in Los Angeles. Game three is set for Sunday, April 15 at 10:30 p.m. ET with game four taking place on Tuesday, April 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET. If necessary game five will be in Vegas on Thursday, April 19. Game six would be in LA on Saturday, April 21. And should there be a game seven it would be on Monday, April 23 at Vegas. Game times would be determined for those final three games.
For the Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin is questionable due to an upper body issue. Muzzin is a key component on the Kings blue line and had eight goals with 34 assists and a plus-10 on the season.
For the Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault is questionable for undisclosed reasons. He was the second leading scorer for Vegas with 27 goals and 48 assists with a whopping plus-26.
Players to Watch
Center William Karlsson proved to be a steal for Vegas. He posted 43 goals and 35 assists with a plus-49.
Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar is being touted for the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable player. He led the Kings with 35 goals, 57 assists and a plus-21. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is considered to be one of the best in the game. Doughty had 10 goals, 50 assists with a plus-23 in the regular season. He added 17 power play assists for the Kings.
Jonathan Quick had a strong season for the Kings. He posted a .921 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average with five shutouts in 64 games. He backstopped the Kings to the Stanley Cup title in 2012 and 2014.
Marc Andre Fleury was every bit as good for the Golden Knights. In 46 games he posted a .927 save percentage with a 2.24 goals against average and four shutouts. Fleury was the starting goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 for their Stanley Cup championship and was backup for their two Stanley Cup titles in 2015 and 2016.
The Kings boast the top ranked penalty killing unit in the NHL this season.
Vegas finished with a record of 51-24-4-3 to win the Pacific Division. At home the Golden Knights were 29-10-1-1 and on the road they went 22-14-3-2. Vegas ranked fifth in the NHL for goal scoring and eighth for goals against.
Los Angeles was 45-29-7-1 to finish fourth in the Pacific Division. The Kings were 23-15-3-0 at home and 22-14-4-1 on the road. LA ranked 16th in the NHL for goal scoring but best in the NHL for goals against.
The Kings and Golden Knights split their four games during the regular season. None of the games went over the total. Both teams got one win and one loss at home and on the road head to head.
Golden Knights vs. Kings Free Picks
Playoff experience will likely be the difference here. The Kings air tight defense is built for playoff success.
Golden Knights vs. Kings Series Prediction: Los Angeles Kings in six games.
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