Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: What to watch for as the Golden Knights look to sweep the Kings
Keep your brooms warm. We might need them.
The Vegas Golden Knights don’t want to see a broom right now. Superstitions run deep in hockey, and even though the Golden Knights are a first-year club, their players are not new to this. But this position — up 3-0 against the Los Angeles Kings, with Game 4 on Tuesday — is new.
The Knights have outplayed the Kings in every game. While a reverse sweep (oh please no) is still within the realm of possibility, let’s just be happy and say it doesn’t happen. So the Knights go for one final victory in LA.
The goaltending battle isn’t going away, despite the better offense in Game 3. The Knights have had the better of that with Marc-Andre Fleury just outclassing the rest of the goaltenders in the first round. Jonathan Quick is a close second, though.
Here are your keys for what could be a historic day for Vegas.
The Kings had a 1-0 lead after two periods in Game 3. It was their first of the series. It wouldn’t last, obviously. But for about 50 minutes of Game, the Kings were in desperation mode. It looked like they had something to play for until they ran out of gas.
Expect full-fledged desperation in Game 4, because this isn’t new territory for the Kings. In 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Sharks were up 3-0, with Game 4 at Staples Center. The Sharks lost four straight, and only got two goals on Quick in their final three games.
Fortunately for Vegas, it hasn’t required a lot of goals to beat the Kings three times this series. But it’s important to know the magnitude of the situation the Golden Knights are in. For as much as they love Vegas, they don’t want to come back here for Game 5.
Can Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb redeem themselves?
The Golden Knights need their first defensive pairing of McNabb and Schmidt to be better than they were in Game 3. After not allowing a goal together through the first two games, they were on the ice for both in the latest contest. That’s not good enough, especially when those two are the ones assigned to Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
Their inability to cover Kopitar led to his first two points of the series. If Schmidt and McNabb are able to once again shut down that line, this game will be more easily contested by the Golden Knights.
Depth remains important
When the third line scored in the third period, it was a momentum changer. The way the Golden Knights have been able to control each of these three games is with depth. They have continued to roll four lines and three defensive pairings, and it’s worn the top-six and the first defensive pairing for the Kings down.
That has to continue. It’s keeping the Golden Knights as the more fresh team.
Colin Miller doesn’t have a point in this series. Tomas Nosek only has an assist, despite numerous chances. Ryan Carpenter, a high-danger scorer, hasn’t gotten the puck in the net yet.
It hasn’t mattered in this series. But to close this one out, it might take that.
I’ll take 4-2 Golden Knights. Miller, Carpenter, and Nosek all break through, with the empty netter from somebody like William Carrier. This is going to be a fun one.
How to Watch
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network, AT&T Rocky Mountain
Radio: Fox Sports Radio 98.9 FM/1340 AM