The Kings skate into Sin City on a two-game skid but their hosts will be refreshed and ready to go after seeing their last four games postponed due to Covid-19 protocols. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing tickets our NHL picks!
Los Angeles Kings vs. Vegas Golden Knights
at T-Mobile Arena,
The Kings’ only spark on offense in their last outing came in the form of 19-year-old rookie, Arthur Kaliyev, who was making his NHL debut and scored the lone goal for Los Angeles on Tuesday night in their 3-1 loss to the Ducks.
”It was a really special moment, getting the first one,” Kaliyev said. ”You never forget one of those moments. A lot of nerves at the start of the game, but I thought I tried to play my best out there.”
But that was the only bright spot for the Kings other than a stellar effort by goalie, Calvin Petersen, who stopped 40 of 42 shots and was awarded the No. 1 star of the game in a losing effort. Los Angeles could only muster 21 shots and were pinned into their defensive zone throughout the night.
”They were better than us in every aspect of the game,” Kings coach Todd MacLellan said. ”We didn’t have the puck much off faceoffs. We didn’t handle a heavy forecheck. We didn’t create a forecheck on our own. We didn’t sustain any offensive zone time at all.”
Knights on Ice – Finally
The Knights enjoyed a 10-day respite due to four canceled games because of COVID-19 protocols but Friday night they will get back to work when they entertain the Kings in Sin City. In their last performance, Vegas dropped a 5-4 shootout to the St. Louis Blues but were lucky to get the point after being down by two goals heading into the final period. Max Pacioretty had a hat trick, one of which was a power-play goal, and linemate Mark Stone assisted on all three tallies.
Despite outshooting the Blues, 46-25, the Knights came out on the wrong end of the decision but much of that was due to St. Louis being the more aggressive team, winning more faceoffs, and having a hot netminder in Jordan Binnington who turned aside 42 shots.
Although most teams will lose a player here or there for the short-term due to COVID-19 protocols, the Golden Knights were without all of their coaches in that game which forced their GM, Kelly McCrimmon, to get behind the bench, assisted by three coaches from the Henderson Silver Knights, Vegas’ AHL affiliate.
Wanna Make a Bet?
Perusing the NHL odds on this Friday night matchup, I see the Knights as a 2 ½ to 1 favorite at many of the best online sportsbooks. But I’m not sure why this line is so heavy on Vegas. Although many will view their 10 days away from the ice as an opportunity to rest their weary legs and lick their wounds, the season is not that old and while this might be a welcome vacation after 60 games, it seems more of a distraction at this point.
Moreover, if we look at the numbers between these teams, they are not that disparate as evidenced by the Knights averaging 3.29 goals per game (13th) versus 2.89 (18th) for the Kings. Power play goals reveal a huge advantage for the Kings, connecting on 21.6 percent (13th) of their man-advantage opportunities while the Knights (27th) score on only 11.5 percent of their chances.
The Kings reign supreme over the Knights in penalty killing as well, extinguishing 87.9 (3rd) percent of those chances while the Knights do a laudable job as well, killing 84 percent which places them seventh in the league.
However, the big advantage for the Knights that the experts will point to is their goals-against average. Vegas ranks third in the league with a 2.29 GAA while LA checks in with a 3.22 goals against average, placing them 23rd in the league.
Yet one must consider that the Kings are a tale of two goalies, with Jonathan Quick getting slightly more work than platoonmate, Calvin Petersen, but that will change very soon. Quick has a less than impressive 3.54 GAA with an 88.4 save percentage compared to Petersen’s 2.29 goals against and a save percentage that is a hair away from a sparkling 93 percent.
The early reports are that Peterson will get the starting assignment tonight and that bodes well for the Kings. Expect the Knights to come out rusty as LA takes full advantage. The line is bloated and we intend to make the books pay.
Free NHL Pick: Kings +210 at BetMGM