Last night most Golden Knights fans were prepared for an entertaining, nail-biting battle with the LA Kings. The problem was, only one team showed up in time. Sure, the math wasn’t in their favor but coming into Thursday’s clash but the Kings had a chance to make things uncomfortable for the Pacific Division’s leader. However, the Golden Knights came out firing and sunk the Kings in the opening 11 minutes.
We got a break with the disallowed goal. That helped us. We talked a little more in depth about LA’s system and a little deeper dive than maybe some other teams we played. Our forecheck was outstanding. Guys were real dedicated to that game plan tonight. I always say against teams that are very good defensively, play a certain way and if you get a lead, it may take them out of their structure a little bit. A lot of playoff hockey mentality. -Bruce Cassidy
Before the game was 22 minutes old, the Golden Knights were up a handful of goals. The Kings looked disengaged, out-of-sorts, and tired. After the opening goal was called back, Vegas pounced on the reversal and took charge of the game and the division.
Not only did the Golden Knights crush any chance the Kings had at moving up the standings, but they left the visitors questioning their effort and focus.
The other day I gave credit to the team as whole. I said it was a team win, tonight was a team loss. There were very few players that were engaged early. You can’t play like that at this time of the year. We haven’t had one of those periods in a long, long time. It’s a little humbling when it does happen. That won’t be good enough for the rest of the season and the playoffs. We know that. All of their damage was done in the first seven minutes so you shouldn’t be worn out at that point. You just weren’t ready to play. – Todd McLellan, Kings coach
Just about the only statistic the Kings were in control of was hits. While LA threw their bodies around, Vegas possessed the puck and heavily pressured the offensive zone. Outside of a couple of special teams tallies, the Kings were completely overwhelmed by the Golden Knights attack. According to Cassidy, his team executed their plan to clog and control the inside of the King’s net.
Power play got us a good goal early on. Stephenson’s line had lots of jump and got rewarded. Phil took one to the net. All of the little things. Inside hockey. We talked about it; you’ve got to get inside. At least two goals on top of the crease. A lot of good things. -Cassidy
The bottom line is the Golden Knights proved last night that they are the most well-rounded team in the division. The Kings have talent, have strong veteran leadership but aren’t as balanced, disciplined, or threatening. It wasn’t a statement win, it was a statement, period.
Next thing you know we’re down four. It’s hard to come back from that. We can’t give up four goals after that. We’re going to have to work at it and look at it to. Make sure that doesn’t happen again. -Anze Kopitar, Kings captain
Sure, it’s possible last night’s game was a playoff preview but for that to happen the Golden Knights would have to stub their toe in the final three games. If Vegas takes care of their own business, clinches the Pacific Division, and finishes off their first-round opponent, LA could be waiting for a rematch. After last night’s results, it would be difficult finding anyone that felt confident enough to pick the Kings. That includes fans from LA.