LA Kings must avoid being embarrassed in consecutive games

LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

After being embarrassed by their rivals, the LA Kings head to Vegas for a two-game set, and they’ll need to be more prepared than Tuesday.

Despite being idle for more than a week and postponing three games, the Golden Knights present an enormous challenge for the LA Kings on Friday night. Vegas was a Stanley Cup-contender last season, and they only improved in the offseason, adding former Blues’ defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

The 31-year-old blueliner landed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list, and his status for Friday night remains up in the air.

“At this point, we don’t know about Alex. Hopefully, he’ll be back sooner than later,” Knights assistant coach Steve Spott said after practice on Thursday.

Whether Pietrangelo plays in this series, Vegas presents a tremendous measuring stick for the LA Kings, who were flat out embarrassed by their rivals on Tuesday night. The Kings looked sloppy in all three phases of the game, except Arthur Kaliyev‘s impressive debut and Cal Petersen single-handedly keeping LA in the game. Kaliyev was sent back down to Ontario for presumably the Reign’s season opener on Saturday.

The Knights are heavy favorites with a -240 money line, per our friends at the Action Network. Here’s how the two teams stack up on paper.

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By all accounts, the LA Kings will be better prepared to face the Golden Knights than they were the Ducks. And hopefully, head coach Todd McLellan’s message got through to his team.

“We worked today in practice,” McLellan said on Wednesday. “Some of the things in practice today that we didn’t do last night. And you know, tomorrow we’ll be back to structure and that type of stuff. But we needed to be reminded what it was like to compete to work. And we got that done today.”

The Kings are riding a three-game win streak and four out of their last five against Vegas. And the Knights are in a similar situation as the LA Kings on Tuesday, in that they haven’t played in a few days – or in this case, a week and a half. Vegas could theoretically come out looking sloppy, similar to how LA looked pretty much all night Tuesday.

At the end of the day, the Golden Knights’ roster is significantly better than the Kings. Led by Max Pacioretty, who already has six goals, including a hat trick in the Knights’ last game, Vegas has so much firepower. They also boast one of the best defensive pairings in former LA King Alec Martinez and Shea Theodore, with the latter developing into one of the premier point-producers from the blue line.

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The Knights are getting outstanding goaltending from the ageless Marc-Andre Fleury, entering Friday’s contest with a 1.00 GAA and .951 SV% in three games this season.

I’ll be honest. I am not expecting the Kings to win this game, or Sunday’s game, for that matter. That said, I am expecting a much better showing than whatever the LA Kings did on Tuesday night. It seemed to have improved before the Kings had four days off, but the passing against the Ducks was horrific.

They really struggled to make that first pass from the breakout, resulting in essentially no offensive chances all evening, except a 3-on-1 that led to Kaliyev’s first career NHL goal.

I’d like to see some of the younger players contribute more. The veterans are still carrying this team. It’s time for the Lias Andersson‘s, Gabe Vilardi’s, and Kale Clague‘s of the Kings to start contributing offensively.