Sound the alarms the Golden Knights dropped another game. Even worse, they lost to a second Pacific Division team. So far this week the Stanley Cup champions dreadfully lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing Game’s 4 & 5 of the Western Conference finals. It’s time to sarcastically panic.
You work for your bounces. They did a good job getting to the net. We had our looks, we just didn’t capitalize on them. -Mark Stone
Last night’s 4-1 loss to the LA Kings was not exactly an upset. Of course, the Golden Knights were favored and held a better record but their counterparts from Los Angeles have been storming to keep it tight in the division. Entering the game, LA was riding a three-game win streak and points in six straight games. While the Golden Knights have stolen most of the headlines coming out of Pacific this season, the Kings have quietly made history of their own. After Wednesday’s game, LA became the eighth team to win their first seven road games. In reality, the two teams are closer than some expected.
So, should the Golden Knights consider the Kings a threat?
Kings def. VGK 4-1
✅ LA = only unbeaten team on the road in 2023-24
✅ First time in franchise history a Kings team has won their first seven road games to start a season
✅ Just the 8th team in NHL history to win their first seven road games, 1st since 2009
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) November 9, 2023
Like the Cup champions, LA is blessed with several impact centers that were in full focus last night. Some analysts expected a drop-off in production from captain Anze Kopitar but in 2023-24 he’s on pace to pass his second-highest point total of his career. Add in his ability to stifle the league’s best forwards and the Kings continue to succeed with their captain on the ice. Fellow frustrator Philip Danault adds a second layer of two-way play that restricted Vegas’ top scorers in 2021. Lastly, the King’s big offseason prize Pierre-Luc Dubois has yet to take off. Dubois made his presence felt last night when he scored his 5th career goal against Vegas. Add in some depth centers and LA can gloat about being one of the strongest teams down the middle.
In a losing effort, William Karlsson scored late last night to avoid being shutout for the first time this season. Also, Karlsson’s final framer gave the Golden Knights 20 3rd period goals. Knocking on their door is the Kings with 19 3rd period goals, including two on Wednesday. Both teams are receiving critical goals with time winding down and it’s impacting the results. We’ve seen it play out in both matchups between these two teams this year.
Really impressive win by the LA Kings in Vegas.
Playoff style, tight checking game. Kings did a great job extending shifts in the offensive zone (1-0 goal, penalty Kopitar drew leading to 2-0 goal) and limiting Vegas speed through the neutral zone.
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) November 9, 2023
After facing each other twice, LA has taken three out of four points against Vegas and the final frame is the reason why. Back in late October, the Golden Knights defeated LA in shootout after the Kings forced overtime. With a little more than a minute remaining in the game, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty evened the score to guarantee a point. Last night, the two 3rd period goals scored by LA made the difference in collecting a full bounty vs. Vegas. Matching late-game goals could become a problem for the Golden Knights when facing the Kings.
Through 14 games this season, the reigning Stanley Cup champions have found ways to defeat opponents in almost every facet of the game. Outscoring, outshooting, strong defense, and stout goaltending has been their recipe for success this season. Seven times this season Vegas has covered the puckline and held opponents to two or fewer goals on eight occasions. LA has won six games by more than two goals and have held opponents to two or fewer tallies in five separate times in 2023-24. The patented Golden Knights strengths are being copied and pasted by the streaking Kings.
Cassidy says the difference in the game was special teams second effort. He thought the 5-on-5 play was fairly close.
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) November 9, 2023
Simply put, Vegas lost 4-1 last night because they failed to control the puck on 5-on-5 and lost the all-important special teams battle. The reigning champions are well-equipped to learn from their midweek mistakes and clean them up on Friday. However, Golden Knights fans aren’t concerned about the San Jose Sharks in early November. Nope, they’re focused on a repeat run and a possible seven-game series with the Kings in late April or early May. It could be a tight one but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.