Game Day Watch: Game Two, Los Angeles Kings @ Vegas Golden Knights
A herculean task awaits the Kings, who will be without three of their top four defensemen.
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:00 PM Pacific
TV: Prime Ticket, 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: With the suspension of Drew Doughty casting a shadow over tonight’s game, it’s clear what the Kings need to do. They have two paths to victory: get an explosive showing from an offense which was nowhere to be found in Game 1, or maintain a strong showing from a defense which is even more depleted than it was in Game 1. (Jake Muzzin remains in a no-contact jersey, which doesn’t officially rule him out but probably is a bad, bad sign.) Which is more likely? I’d say the first, and if that’s the case, LA fans are looking to Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Jeff Carter.
if you’re a Golden Knights fan: The series started about as well as you can hope for, but be honest, you were a little nervous, right? Vegas was incredibly dangerous on the power play, but at 5-on-5, some decent offensive pressure didn’t manifest itself in all that many chances. In fact, while Corsica had the Kings at a measly 1.05 expected goals at 5-on-5, the Golden Knights weren’t a whole lot better with 1.45 expected goals at 5-on-5. Their only goal was a deflection off a defenseman, and they can’t expect a shutout from Marc-Andre Fleuery every night. (I hope.) The Kings’ D is ripe for the picking and they will try to take advantage, repeatedly.
if you’re a hockey fan: On paper, this is shaping up to be a lopsided game, but both teams are angry and will likely continue hitting everything that moves on Friday night. Also, if you thought that 1-0 game was fun viewing, imagine if these teams actually score multiple goals! Plus, no matter who wins, you can paint this as a fun underdog story, and everyone loves a fun underdog story.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
for the Kings: Dion Phaneuf. Alec Martinez is going to get a heavy dose of responsibility tonight, and that’s nothing new for him this season. For Phaneuf, however, it’s gonna be tougher. While Martinez averaged 22:52 in ice time per game this season, Phaneuf has only exceeded 22:52 one time in a Kings uniform. That was last week against Minnesota. I’d say he’s a shoo-in to do it tonight, but he actually played less than Oscar Fantenberg on Wednesday. I’m fascinated in seeing how Stevens rolls with this six, and primarily, I want to see whether Phaneuf does indeed slot in as D2 tonight.
Kings lines/pairs this morning:— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) April 13, 2018
Appears Iafallo is out. Muzzin still in a no-contact jersey.
for the Golden Knights: Deryk Engelland. Like Phaneuf, he’s the elder statesman on his blueline, and like Phaneuf, he’s not the fastest guy in the world. Like most of the Golden Knights, he had great possession numbers against Alec Martinez and bad possession numbers against Drew Doughty in Game One. He’s got zero goals and two assists in 29 career playoff games, so I’m not emphasizing him for scoring; I’m emphasizing him because if he’s able to keep up with his younger partners on the blueline for 20+ minutes, it doesn’t bode well for LA.
- Drew Doughty was suspended, but you know that already. Here’s what he had to say prior to the announcement of the suspension./
- The San Jose Sharks quickly wrested home ice advantage from the Anaheim Ducks with a 3-0 win in Anaheim last night. Nashville, Tampa Bay, and Boston cruised in their series openers at home, while Columbus gave us our first OT winner of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- I wasn’t expecting such a quick answer on how consistent the NHL’s Department of Player Safety would be in reviewing/punishing hits to the head. Nazem Kadri is getting a hearing today for an unequivocally worse hit on Tommy Wingels, while Ryan Johansen avoided a hearing after his hit on Tyson Barrie. We did get some reasoning for that decision, but I’m a little surprised they didn’t even bother calling. We also found out that “camera angles” helped save Tom Wilson from supplemental discipline, which... okay./
Gabriel Vilardi, we can’t wait to see you in Los Angeles.
Big time goal from big time player 👏@LAKings prospect @Gabe_Vilardi13 gets his 🔟🚨 of #OHLPlayoffs and now has 2️⃣0️⃣ points in 🔟 games for @KingstonFronts who lead #BARvsKGN 3-2. pic.twitter.com/sbLtOWRjbg— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 13, 2018