The Vegas Golden Knights are on the road to battle the Los Angeles Kings in a Pacific Division tilt on Thursday night. The Golden Knights went 40-14-4 last season. The Kings tallied a 21-28-7 record and did not qualify for the playoffs. The Golden Knights recorded a 6-2 record in the eight meetings against the Kings last year.
Golden Knights Favorites in Pacific Division
The Vegas Golden Knights are primed for another big season. They enjoyed another deep playoff run in 2020 after falling to the Canadiens in the third round. Vegas has nearly the same roster. Golden Knights’ Captain Mark Stone led the team with 61 points in 2020. The 29-year old veteran was stellar against the Kings, recording nine points in the eight meetings.
Forwards Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson are also back in the mix. Pacioretty tallied three points in Tuesday’s season-opening win over the Seattle Kraken. Vegas added Evgeni Dadonov in free agency. The veteran forward struggled last season, netting only 13 goals in 55 games but has earned several 20 goal seasons. The Knights' blue line is anchored by stars Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore.
That goal was Supersonic 😜 pic.twitter.com/0jrYcHBy6Q— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 13, 2021
One area the Knights will be sporting a different look is in the net. Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury was traded to the Blackhawks, leaving Robin Lehner as the #1 goalie. The veteran netminder is considered a #1 caliber goalie but has never really played a full regular season. He posted a 2.29 GAA and a .913 save % accompanied by a 13-4-2 record last season. Vegas ranked 3rd in the NHL with 3.3 goals per game in 2020. They allowed an average of only 2.2 goals, landing them 2nd.
Kings Ready to Take Rebuild to Next Level
The Los Angeles Kings are looking to take their rebuild to the next level. They have been in rebuild mode for the past few years and have accumulated young talent. The veterans are still in the picture as well, led by captain Anze Kopitar. The 34-year old remains a big threat, collecting a team-leading 50 points last season. He was productive against Vegas last year, recording two goals along with five assists.
The Kings added Viktor Arvidsson who will be a top-six forward. The veteran winger has multiple 20 goal-scoring seasons. L.A. signed former Montreal Canadien Phillip Danault to a large six-year deal in the offseason. The 28-year old winger is outstanding defensively and contributes in the offensive end. Danault tallied 24 points in 53 regular-season games and was effective in the playoffs. Former 1st round pick Gabriel Vilardi could be in for a breakout season. The 22-year old registered 23 points in 54 games in 2021.
The crowd: "Shoooooooot!"— LA Kings (@LAKings) October 10, 2021
Vladimir Tkachev: "k" pic.twitter.com/aPWrIqUKhW
Calvin Petersen took the reigns as the #1 goalie last season ahead of Jonathan Quick. Petersen finished last year with a 2.89 GAA and a stellar .911 save % accompanied by a 9-18-5 record. Last season, Los Angeles scored an average of 2.5 goals, ranking them 27th in the NHL. They conceded an average of three goals, placing them 22nd in the league.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Golden Knights no longer have Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes and while Robin Lehner is solid, he is no Fleury. The Kings are going to be an improved team this season and they have a promising young goalie in Calvin Petersen. He compiled a fantastic .928 save % in four games against Vegas last season.
Furthermore, this is the Kings home opener which I expect to play a factor in this one. Petersen tallied a respectable 2.67 GAA at home last year. L.A. will be a better team offensively and defensively with the additions of Phillip Danult on forward and Alex Edler on defense. Vegas wasn’t particularly threatening in Tuesday’s season opener. They topped Seattle 4-3 but were outshot and outplayed for large portions of the game.
Full-Game Total Pick
I am opting for the over in this one. The over was the dominant trend when these rivals met in 2021, cashing in six of the eight meetings. Los Angeles added a few scoring threats and the young talent should increase their production this year as well.
Vegas will be one of the top offensive squads in the NHL this season after finishing third in goals in 20201. They averaged 3.75 goals against the Kings last year. The over has been a rewarding play between these division foes, cashing in 10 out of the last 13 meetings.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The over on the Kings team total is worth a look. The Kings are going to surprise foes offensively this season. They have plenty of young offensive talent ready to blossom and don’t forget about solid veterans such as Kopitar, Iafallo, and Dustin Brown.
Half-Time Prop Prediction
I am selecting the over on the first period total. The Kings should come out flying in their home opener. I also expect some offense from the Golden Knights considering they scored 57 goals in 56 games in the opening frame last season.