Golden Knights vs. Kings preview and prediction

Backed by an incredible inaugural season, have the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, bitten off more they can chew drawing a first round matchup with the Los Angeles Kings?

The Vegas Golden Knights, Pacific Division champions and the second-seeded team in the Western Conference, take on the top wild-card team, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

Top scorers for the Golden Knights include William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron. A fantastic breakout season saw Karlsson record 43 goals and 35 assists for 78 points in 82 games. Marchessault had a career high 75 points in 77 games, and Perron recorded 66 points in just 70 games.

For the Kings, Hart Trophy candidate and team captain Anze Kopitar had his finest season to date, notching 35 goals and 57 assists for 92 points. Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli sit second and third on the Kings roster in scoring, with 61 and 60 points, respectively.

The two teams had an entertaining and even season series, splitting the four games with two wins apiece. For the Golden Knights, Reilly Smith led the offense, recording six points in the series. Behind Smith, Karlsson had four points in the four games the team played, while Marchessault had 3. Both Marc Andre Fleury and Maxime Legace recorded a win and a loss for the Knights.

For the Kings, Kopitar recorded five points in the season series, while Drew Doughty had four. No other King had more than two points against a stout Vegas defense.

Both Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell made appearances against the Golden Knights this season. Each recorded a win, while Quick was credited with the two losses.

Both the Knights and Kings have elite goaltenders who have the ability to steal them games. For the Golden Knights, veteran and three-time Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury had an exceptional season. With a 29-13-4 record, .927 save percentage and 2.24 goals against average and four shutouts; Fleury is deserving of some Vezina Trophy conversation.

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 31: Marc-Andre Fleury will look to be the backbone of the Golden Knights as they embark on a deep playoff run.

For the Kings, two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick preformed well throughout the year. A 33-28-3 record to go with five shutouts, a 2.40 goals against average and .927 save percentage shows his skill in the crease. The goaltending matchup in this first round series is definitely one hockey fans should look out for.

Through the regular season, the Golden Knights tied for third in the NHL in goals for per game, averaging 3.3. The Knights also have the league’s 11th-best power play, which was operating at 21.4 percent.

The Kings will look to shut down a high-flying Knights offense, as the Kings are the best defensive team in the NHL. They concede an average of just 2.5 goals per game, and have the league’s best penalty kill, which is killing a brilliant 85 percent of penalties.

We can expect a very tight first round series. Chances are it will be more low scoring then other series, as elite goaltender’s and top defense-man could potentially steal the show. Expect the L.A. Kings to push the Golden Knights to the brink, but backed by the experience of reigning cup champion Marc Andre Fleury, the Knights will prevail.

Prediction: Golden Knights in 7.

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