Gameday: Golden Knights ring in new year against the Kings
Vegas and Los Angeles will meet for the fourth time in 13 games, which seems rather unhealthy.
This is close to the equivalent of creating a Spotify playlist of 10 songs, adding one song three times and it playing every other two songs.
The Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings are about to play hockey for the fourth time in less than a month. Schedule gods, you are one weird bunch.
This meeting will be the final time Vegas and Los Angeles meet until the season finale April 6 at Staples Center, and I’m sure both fanbases are OK with this. The Kings won the first two meetings (5-1 on Dec. 8, 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 23). Vegas responded with a dominant 4-1 win at Staples Center on Saturday.
Vegas is on a three-game winning streak; two points behind the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division with two games in hand. The Kings, meanwhile, have crawled out from the basement of the Western Conference (which now belongs to St. Louis) and are only nine points back of Dallas for the second wild card.
A very important New Years Day matchup, this is, To watch for, here is what.
We need Yoda for all recaps and previews going forward.
The beginning of a favorable month
The Golden Knights went 9-2-3 in December, which is miraculous considering they had four back-to-backs. They went from one game above .500 to eight in 14 games. That’s remarkable.
Now, Vegas will get a chance to breathe a tad. The Golden Knights play 10 games between tonight and Jan. 23, which marks the mandatory bye week/All-Star weekend. Seven of those games are at home. A friendly reminder that the Golden Knights have played a 24-18 split of road and home games, respectively, to this point.
More importantly, no back-to-backs.
There are only three division matchups within that stretch, however. The importance of Vegas at least taking care of home ice is paramount. That begins tonight for the Golden Knights and, for what it may seem, an important stretch of games for Marc-Andre Fleury.
Pauly Walnuts is doing it all
The Golden Knights are still not at full strength, and at the time of publishing, it’s unclear how long Max Pacioretty will remain out. In the meantime, the second line continues to put on a show. While Brandon Pirri is getting all the love, Paul Stastny has been outstanding.
Stastny has three straight multipoint games during this win streak. He’s been the quintessential do-it-all man for Vegas; he scores, he passes, he does power play work, takes important faceoffs and could probably be on the penalty kill if he wanted to.
The Golden Knights have yet to miss a beat on the second line while Pacioretty deals with an unknown ailment. The discussion of what happens with Pirri once that dilemma finally settles down will happen when it comes. But that trio of Pirri, Stastny and Alex Tuch have not missed a beat and have been the best line over the past six games.
Expect another big night for that line, just because.
Tired Kings on back-to-back?
You always wonder if these sorts of things matter. It doesn’t sometimes for the Golden Knights, who have no qualms of throwing Fleury for both games of a back-to-back sometimes.
But the Kings come to Vegas not partying on the Strip for New Year’s. They were escaping Denver with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Jonathan Quick got the start, and his 299th win in the NHL, in the effort.
Cal Petersen, who got the win in Vegas on Dec. 23, has been sent back to Ontario of the AHL. Jack Campbell is set to make his return in the crease for L.A. after being out since Nov. 10 with a knee injury. Long live the legend of Campbell and his ability to get a 40-plus-save win in Las Vegas, once upon a moon.
How to watch
Time: 6 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, ESPN+, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM