Vegas Golden Knights vs LA Kings (Game 2): Preview & Prediction

Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb during pregame warmup
Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb had a career-best plus/minus of +26 this year while logging over 20 minutes per night for the Golden Knights. Photo by Michael Miller (Wikipedia) [CC License].

The Cinderella story continued for the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal with the Los Angeles Kings, emerging from a close-checking defensive battle with a 1-0 win.

Will the Knights take a commanding 2-0 series lead tonight (10:00 PM ET) in Game 2? With Drew Doughty suspended for the Kings, Vegas opened as a heavy favorite.

Opening Odds

MONEYLINE PUCKLINE O/U GOALS
KINGS (+145) KINGS +1.5 (-210) OVER 5.0 (-125)
GOLDEN KNIGHTS (-165) GOLDEN KNIGHTS -1.5 (+175) UNDER 5.0 (+105)

Game 1 went mostly as expected. The Knights used their speed to generate a few chances off the rush, while LA tried to counter with its size and down-low cycle game. Thanks in large part to the Kings’ stingy defense, which finished first in the NHL in goals against (see table below), quality scoring chances were hard to come by.

The Knights opened the scoring early in the first period on a Shea Theodore wrist shot from the point (which was clearly tipped by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, but was credited to Theodore nonetheless; see 0:08 mark of video below).

Marc-Andre Fleury was the story [of Game 1 … stopping] all 30 shots he faced.

From there, Marc-Andre Fleury was the story. The only player on the Knights with a Stanley Cup ring saved all 30 shots he faced. Though he also got a little lucky in the second when Dustin Brown missed a wide-open net. (See 1:56 mark of video below.)

News went from bad to worse for the Kings after the game when the league handed Drew Doughty (26:50 TOI; 60 PTS) a one-game suspension for his hit to the head on William Carrier in the third period.

Key Injuries & Absences

GOLDEN KNIGHTS KINGS
William Carrier: Questionable (head) Drew Doughty: Out (1-game suspension)
David Perron: Questionable (unspecified injury) Derek Forbort: Out (LBI)
Luca Sbisa: Questionable (hand) Jake Muzzin: Out (UBI)

In addition to Doughty, LA will also be without the services of fellow D-men Forbort and Muzzin (barring something miraculous).

On the Vegas side, Carrier is still feeling the effects of the hit from Doughty, while Perron is battling to return from a mystery ailment that’s kept him out since late March.

Team Stats

GOLDEN KNIGHTS
VS
KINGS
51-24-7 (29-10-2 Home) REGULAR-SEASON RECORD 45-29-8 (22-14-5 Away)
 +44 (6th) GOAL DIFFERENCE (LEAGUE RANK) +36 (7th)
3.32 GPG (4th) GF/GAME 2.92 GPG (17th)
2.78 GAA (8th) GA/GAME 2.48 GAA (1st)
 51.5% (8th) FENWICK % 49.7% (18th)
 21.4% (11th)  POWER PLAY % 20.4% (17th)
 81.4% (10th)  PENALTY KILL % 85.0% (1st)
 .911% (11th) TEAM SV% .920% (3rd)

Betting Results & Trends*

KNIGHTS  TREND KINGS
Lost 1 WIN/LOSS STREAK Lost 2
5-5 LAST 10 5-5
51-32 PUCKLINE RECORD 44-39
42-38-3 OVER/UNDER SPLIT 37-43-2
 Under 1 OVER/UNDER STREAK Under 1

*All statistics date back to regular season.

Score Prediction

KINGS 1
GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3

Vegas has been spectacular at home all season, and now has the luxury of facing the Kings without Doughty. That doesn’t mean tonight’s game will suddenly become an end-to-end, high-scoring affair. John Stevens will do his utmost to make this a slow, plodding, and downright ugly game without his star defenseman. The longer it stays 0-0, the better chance LA has of stealing a win.

But the speed of the Knights will eventually break through the Kings’ severely depleted backend, which, as mentioned, will likely be missing Muzzin and Forbort as well, two players who averaged over 20 minutes of ice-time per game.

Unless Fleury regresses to the sieve that showed up in 2012 and 2013, Vegas is worthy of its status as a -165 favorite.

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Sascha was a hockey player in his youth. He gave that up to do something much more practical: become a lawyer. He gave that up to do something much more enjoyable: write about sports. SBD's lead odds-maker/number cruncher since 2014, Sascha writes and edits about anything and everything you can possibly put odds on. He's happiest when those things are baseball, hockey, football, and basketball, though. In his spare time, Sascha likes watching Jeopardy with his wife, building train sets with his son, and pretending he's still an athlete, not necessarily in that order.