We’ve known for a while now that the Vegas Golden Knights would be headed to the playoffs, but who the Knights would take on in the first round remained a bit of a mystery. The Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and even Colorado Avalanche were possible first-round opponents, but now we know that it will be the Los Angeles Kings, arguably Vegas’ most bitter rival, welcoming the Knights to the wild world of playoff hockey.
With the Central Division-winning Nashville Predators finishing the regular season with more points than the Golden Knights, they earned a first-round matchup against the lowest-seeded wild card team (that being the Avalanche). The Golden Knights, the other division winner in the Western Conference, earned a first-round matchup against the top-seeded wild card team, which just so happened to be one of their closest geographical rivals.
Vegas and Los Angeles split their four-game regular season series two games apiece. Vegas had the Kings’ number to start the year, beating them in both of their first two meetings. However, the tables turned later on in the season when Los Angeles beat Vegas two nights in a row following February’s trade deadline.
Each game between the Kings and Knights went down to the wire, and it certainly wasn’t uncommon to see players getting under each other’s skin.
While the Kings had to rally late in the season to earn a spot in the playoffs, this series certainly won’t be a cakewalk for the Golden Knights. Los Angeles finished the regular season just two points short of the century mark and clearly know a thing or two about how to effectively play against Vegas.
That said, though, it’s hard to ask for a better opponent in the Golden Knights’ first-ever playoff appearance. The Knights and Kings are quickly forming one of the better rivalries in hockey, and this playoff series will do nothing but add fuel to the fire.