(Photo credit: Michael Miller)
Welcome Cinderella to the ball
The Vegas Golden Knights weren't supposed to be here.
They are an expansion team with a bunch of players that teams were happy to make available. It was a group of misfits that should've finished near the bottom of the standings. But low and behold, not only are the Golden Knights in the playoffs, but they won the Pacific Division and finished with the fifth-best record in the NHL.
It's a Cinderella story for the ages, but the test only gets tougher as they go up against a Los Angeles Kings team looking to get back to their contending ways.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, Los Angeles has just one playoff win in the past three seasons. With a resurgent Dustin Brown and a dominant Anze Kopitar, will the Kings end the run of the Golden Knights or will Cinderella's ball continue past midnight?
Season Series: Vegas 2-1-1; Los Angeles 2-1-1
- Vegas: William Karlsson (43-35-78), Jonathan Marchessault (27-48-75), David Perron (16-50-66)
- Los Angeles: Anze Kopitar (35-57-92), Dustin Brown (28-33-61), Drew Doughty (10-50-60)
Players to Watch:
- Vegas: Before this year, Karlsson never surpassed more than 25 points in a season. This year, he not only passed that mark, but he downright blew it out of the water. Karlsson established himself as a number one center in the regular season, but will he be able to keep it going in his first playoff run as "the guy" in the middle?
- Los Angeles: It's hard not to put Kopitar here. He set a career high in goals, assists, and points this season, and could be the one that carries the Kings deep into the playoffs.
Outlook: Despite their successful season, it can be tough to see a team with no real history to move deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That said, this Vegas team isn't like your normal expansion team. They are backstopped by a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender, have an excellent head coach, and have a roster as deep as any team in the league. Still, Los Angeles will be ready.
Brown is ready to prove that he's back as a top-tier player with a stellar postseason while Jonathan Quick is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. With a more free-flowing gameplan and a talent level that is built around that play style, Los Angeles will not be the same team many remember from their Stanley Cup runs of years past. They will play fast, move the puck around, and get more open looks than before.
However, it's hard to see a team that has played so well throughout the year just roll over in the first round of the playoffs.
Pick: Vegas in six
|1||Wed, Apr 11||Kings at Golden Knights||10 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|2||Fri, Apr 13||Kings at Golden Knights||10 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|3||Sun, Apr 15||Golden Knights at Kings||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|4||Tue, Apr 17||Golden Knights at Kings||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|5*||Thu, Apr 19||Kings at Golden Knights||10 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|6*||Sat, Apr 21||Golden Knights at Kings||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Mon, Apr 23||Kings at Golden Knights||TBD||TBD|