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Game Day Watch: Game One, Los Angeles Kings @ Vegas Golden Knights

The Kings aren’t new to this. The Golden Knights are VERY new to this. Let’s have some fun.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Los Angeles Kings Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 7:00 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West, NBCSN, CBC, TVA
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: Fox Sports Go, NBC Sports (cable subscriptions required)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

if you’re a Kings fan: The immediate points of interest are (1) whether Alex Iafallo can be effective in his return to the lineup and (2) whether Jake Muzzin can return to the lineup at all in Round 1. Iafallo is expected to slot in his familiar spot on Kopitar’s wing in Game One but had already seen his minutes decline in March before he was hurt; what will his impact be? Muzzin’s return is imminent but if he isn’t back tonight, both Paul LaDue and Oscar Fantenberg will be pressed into action, and LA’s top four will likely see heavy minutes.

Also, you’re just excited to watch the Kings in a playoff game again.

if you’re a Golden Knights fan: You’re primarily focused on the health of David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault. Marchessault is banged up but a virtual certainty to play in Game One, while Perron is questionable and may have to wait to rekindle his blood feud with Jonathan Quick.

Also, you’re just excited to watch the Golden Knights in a playoff game, and moreso, a meaningful game. Vegas has been playing relatively low-stakes hockey for a few weeks, and they should be raring to go.

if you’re a hockey fan: A lot to keep an eye on here! You’re interested in seeing how the Vegas playoff atmosphere stacks up to the rest of the NHL, and whether their plan to keep Kings fans to a vocal minority has worked. You’re interested in Quick vs. Fleury, Kopitar/Brown vs. Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith, and Doughty vs. everyone. Most of all, though, it’s expected to be one of the most closely contested series of the opening round, between two very different squads. This is the only late game on the docket for Wednesday, and what a way to end night one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

for the Kings: Anze Kopitar. Only slam-dunk picks for Game One. His consistency has been remarkable this year, as he hasn’t had a ten-game stretch with fewer than ten points since January. His impact stays even when he isn’t putting pucks in the net; Kopitar was limited to just one total shot on goal in Games 79-81, but still picked up an assist and was a + in each game. This will be Kopitar’s first playoff game as the Los Angeles Kings’ captain, and though the health of LA’s forwards takes some pressure off, he’s the engine.

for the Golden Knights: William Karlsson. Again, only slam-dunk picks for Game One. The burning question all season has been whether Karlsson can keep up his torrid shooting pace, and the answer has been yes all season. (According to Hockey Reference, the last player to shoot above 23% on more than 150 shots was Cam Neely in 1993-94.) He’s got four goals and eight assists in his last seven games and three goals against LA this season.

PLAYOFF WATCH

  • Appetizers include Winnipeg-Minnesota and Pittsburgh-Philadelphia. Find more of SB Nation’s coverage of the playoffs here.
  • The NHL Bracket Challenge is back. Pick the Kings! Or don’t! I can’t make you do anything!
  • The Kings didn’t depart LA without leaving their #SticksOutForHumboldt. (Remarkably, the GoFundMe page for Humboldt has surpassed $8 million. You can donate here.)

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