Game Day Watch: Game Four, Vegas Golden Knights @ Los Angeles Kings
Odds are, this will be the Los Angeles Kings’ last home game of the season. Never tell them the odds.
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:30 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: From our prior game day watch:
Jonathan Quick has been sensational, stopping 81 of 84 shots through two games, but he hasn’t been able to get any support. Unfortunately, even a team missing three of its top four defensemen should be able to score more than one goal in 96 minutes. Time for the forwards to emerge on their own ice.
One line, kind of, emerged: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Alex Iafallo. They combined for two goals and four points, known in this series as “an offensive explosion.” Unfortunately, those three were too far up ice to prevent James Neal from giving Vegas a late lead, and other lines were stymied. That’s why you’re on elimination watch tonight.
if you’re a Golden Knights fan: From our prior game day watch:
The only major concern is that Vegas has largely failed to solve [Jonathan] Quick, and while Marc-Andre Fleury has certainly been good enough to keep winning tight games, he hasn’t been tested all that much.
Consider that one addressed, as Fleury responded to much better pressure from LA with another excellent performance. In particular, he kept one key Kings forward off the board with some huge saves while trailing 1-0 — we’ll mention him in a minute — and that keyed the Golden Knights’ third period rally. That’s why you’re on sweep watch tonight.
if you’re a hockey fan: From a neutral perspective, Sunday night’s game was wildly entertaining. In addition to some offense, you got your physical play, your counterattacks, your momentum swings, and enough animosity to fuel four more games of this series. All that fuel probably isn’t going to get used up unless something changes, though, so maybe your best interest is for this series to keep going.
(Of course, our parent site gravely insulted us with a “Jump on the Vegas bandwagon!” piece, so maybe you’ve already ditched the neutral perspective. In which case, good luck with that... whenever you have to face them in a playoff series, you’ll understand why we’re so annoyed.)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
for the Kings: Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli had one of the quieter 24-goal seasons in recent memory, and there are parallels to Neal, who I highlighted on Sunday as a player who could flip a game on his head in a single moment despite flying under the radar on his own team. Neal did that. Toffoli came damn close to doing the same, but was stopped on enormously good chances in the first and second period. Kopitar didn’t have many critics to begin with, but his Game 2 showing answered the ones he did have. Most of the criticism has shifted to Toffoli, who has zero even strength goals in his last 14 games. Can he answer?
for the Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. Can you believe this guy used to be considered a playoff underachiever? Starting with the 2008-09 playoffs (in which he won his first Cup) and ending with the 2015-16 playoffs (in which he won his second, but as a backup), he actually posted a sub-.900 save percentage. As recently as the spring of 2017, Pittsburgh was expecting to lose a very solid goalie who hadn’t done anything of note in the playoffs in quite some time and was clearly the team’s second-best netminder. Then he stepped up in a big way in the first two rounds of the postseason, including a shutout of the Washington Capitals in Game 7, before handing the net back to Matt Murray. He didn’t finish that run but he’s the guy now, and he’s been nearly perfect.
- It could be worse. It can always be worse. [Anaheim Calling]
- No hearings since Nazem Kadri was suspended for three games. I wasn’t expecting Erik Haula to be punished for a hit which usually gets rewarded with a penalty and nothing more, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t a big topic of conversation. [Vegas quotes via Hockey Buzz] [LA quotes via LA Kings Insider]
- Forget what I said about playoff favorites dominating in their early-round series. Boston, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, and Nashville all lost Game 3 on the road. LA and Anaheim are the only two teams trailing 3-0 in their series, though Washington could join them today. [SB Nation NHL]/
I wouldn’t post a video of highlights from Game 4 of the San Jose Sharks-Los Angeles Kings series in 2014. How predictable do you think I am?
This one was way better.