Kings defense will test Golden Knights
April 10, 2018 3:01 AM
by Alan Berg
Well, Las Vegas, here we go – the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Arguably the most exciting playoffs in all the major sports, one big reason a best of seven series each round truly is a battle among the teams involved. Sometimes a tough first-round win in seven leads to a second-round quick exit, just because of how physical and draining round one was.
Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, landing the Los Angeles Kings the one team that stylistically can grind them down and force, if nothing else, a long first-round battle.
Caesars was the first sports book to have a Series Price up with the Knights opening -130 to win the series, the Kings takeback at +110. Current line at press time moved to -140 Knights. Caesars Senior Bookmaker Jeff Davis is one of the best NHL guys in the business. The season series was a 2-2 split with two wins coming in overtime. It’s likely this back and forth continues because statistically these teams seem meant to test each other.
Vegas is No. 6 in the NHL in Goals Per Game at 3.3, No. 8 in Goals Against 2.7, No. 11 power play unit 21.4% and No. 10 penalty kill 81.4%.
LA sits at No. 16 GPG (2.9), No. 1 GA (2.5), No. 17 PP (20.4%), No. 1 PK (85%).
The two biggest standouts here are the Knights score goals, the Kings stop them. This makes for one-goal win type games and likely a six or seven game series.
As far as the schedule: the Stanley Cup Playoffs start Wednesday and Game 1 is the nightcap at 7 p.m. PT at T-Mobile Arena on NBC Sports Network or ATT Sportsnet. Game 2 is Friday from Vegas, Game 3 Sunday at Los Angeles, Game 4 Tuesday at LA, (if necessary) Game 5 Thursday from Vegas, Game 6 Saturday at LA and Game 7 Monday from Vegas.
Before we get to the game picks let’s briefly look at the rest of the playoffs.
No. 1 Eastern Conference Seed and Atlantic Division winner Tampa Bay Lightning takes on No. 2 Wild Card New Jersey Devils. Interestingly the Devils swept the Lightning and Tampa star player Steven Stamkos is questionable for Thursday’s game. (Caesars opened Lightning -270/Devils +230)
No. 2 Atlantic Boston battles the No. 3 Atlantic Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins fell Sunday night to Florida giving the Lightning the overall top seed. Toronto took the season series 3-1. Keep in mind the last time these two met it was heartbreak for Toronto in 2013. Less than 90 seconds remaining in Game 7, the Bruins scored twice to force overtime and won in Toronto. (Caesars opened Bruins -180/Leafs +160)
No. 1 Metropolitan Division Winner Washington Capitals face off with the No. 1 Wild Card Columbus Blue Jackets. Washington won the season series against CBJ 3-1. I had the Blue Jackets as my pick to win the Stanley Cup and they are red hot take a shot on them to win this series. (Caesars opened Capitals -110/Jackets -110)
No. 2 Metro Pittsburgh Penguins in a great rivalry matchup with No. 3 Metro Philadelphia Flyers. Bad news for Flyer fans, the defending Stanley Cup Champions swept the season series 4-0. (Caesars opened Penguins -210/Flyers +180)
No. 1 Western Conference Seed and Central Division winner Nashville Predators defend their Campbell Bowl (WC trophy) against No. 2 Wild Card Colorado. Nashville got out the brooms (4-0) against the Avs this season. It will be a tall task for Colorado to take out the Preds. (Caesars opened Predators -350/Avalanche +275)
No. 2 Central Winnipeg Jets against the No. 3 Central Minnesota Wild. The Jets already have the 3-1 season advantage to take into this series against Minnesota. However, the Wild recently lost star defenseman Ryan Suter, which likely means a first round exit. (Caesars opened Jets -200/Wild +175)
No. 2 Pacific Anaheim Ducks are in a bitter war with the No. 3 San Jose Sharks. Two teams that have been in the playoffs constantly in the last 10 years. The wild aspect of the season series, three of the four games went to a shootout, so this is as even as it gets. (Caesars opened Sharks -115/Ducks -105)
Game 1 – Kings at Knights
Vegas has used T-Mobile as a platform to launch this franchise and I think it’s entirely possible this will be the best playoff performance they will put in all season. The energy and building will be too loud and raucous for the Kings in Game 1. KNIGHTS
Game 2 – Kings at Knights
Here is where things get tricky from the picks aspect. If the Knights perform how I think they will in Game 1, I really like the Kings to steal Game 2. LA will know how huge this game is if they lose Game 1, only because if the Knights get confidence early at home they will be really hard to beat in a possible Game 5 or Game 7. However, if the Kings steal Game 1, I still like LA to win Game 2. KINGS
Game 3 – Knights at Kings
Assuming we are 1-1, I believe the Kings will feel very confident going into this game and, not wanting to let the home crowd down, they will pick up this game. However, if down 2-0, Vegas wins Game 3. KINGS (unless KNIGHTS are down 2-0)
Let’s regroup after Game 3, we will likely be talking about a great couple of wars between these two new rivals.