There could be no more poetic a way for the Vegas Golden Knights to play their first ever NHL hockey game in T-Mobile Arena then for it to be against the rival Los Angeles Kings.
The NHL may have lucked their way into this bit of perfect schedule making, but nonetheless it is here and it is exactly as it should be.
The NHL's greatest Twitter account faces off against the dethroned former King. The Kings, once the undisputed champion of the social media landscape, have since fallen on hard times. The same is true of their on-ice product. They have missed the playoffs in two of the last three years, and have gone from reigning Stanley Cup Champion to shell of their former selves. As have some of their players. Time is undefeated.
The Kings truly are a case study for what not to do following success.
In the off-season the Kings signed goalie Darcy Kuemper to a one-year deal, bought out Matt Greene's contract, signed extensions with Andy Andreoff and Tyler Toffoli, and ... that’s it.
Which, believe it or not, is probably a good sign for an organisation that fired their long-time coach Darryl Sutter and long-time general manager Dean Lombardi. It is time for a rebuild and a fresh start for a team that, despite their fantastic possession numbers have too few finishers, too many big contracts, and are circling the drain to obscurity.
Here are three things to watch for the Golden Knights in this one.
Are we seeing the starting forward group tonight?
There are 20 forwards left in camp, so the forward group we will see in October is getting closer to completion. Among those not playing tonight are Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Brendan Leipsic, William Karlsson and Stefan Matteau.
Paul Thompson and TJ Tynan were placed on waivers Monday, so their time has come to an end.
Bellemare probably ends up scratched, the rest sent down, so it could be that this is the exact lineup we will see in October (sans James Neal due to injury). This means the line combinations tonight are of utmost importance if you are trying to project the lineup.
Time is running out for the defensemen so watch for desperation
With 11 defenders still in camp and just three games to play remaining it is safe to say that for Deryk Engelland, Luca Sbisa, Jon Merrill, and Shea Theodore, this is possibly their last chance to make the opening night lineup.
It’s time for all involved to really show they want to be on the team and play significant minutes as a Golden Knight this season. It’s time to play like your career depends on it. For at least three players failure to do so leads to an uncertain future.
Tomas Hyka’s last stand!
Tomas Hyka, signed out of the Czech league by the Golden Knights, is second on the team in preseason points with five (four goals, one assist) and may have locked himself into a roster spot with James Neal out.
We have perhaps been guilty of slightly overhyping players based on very little data (see Wong, Tyler). We can be forgiven for this, as it is the preseason. Hyka is different. He has a very real chance to win a roster spot (if he hasn’t already) and he gets a chance to do so against the team that drafted him once upon a time.
Scheduled time is 7 p.m. PT and the game can be seen on AT&T SportsNet.