The Christmas break didn’t slow the Vegas Golden Knights own, as they notched another victory last night to bring their record to 24-9-0. Remember, this is an expansion team. The roster was thrown together in the expansion draft and by picking up what they could in free agency. It’s incredibly impressive how quickly the chemistry between players came together. It actually didn’t take any time at all. They just needed training camp and the preseason, and that’s all they needed to start gelling together.
From the initial puck drop on opening night, to their 4-1 win over the Ducks last night, the Golden Knights have been the talk of the league. The next test will come in the second-half of the season. It’s fairly common for some teams to hit a wall after the All-Star Game. For the Knights, they will look to shut down the doubters again. They’re on pact to reach the playoffs at the moment, which would be quite the accomplishment for an expansion team. Even if they don’t reach it to the second-round, it’d be such a milestone just in their first season as an organization.
What usually transpires is an expansion team bombs the first couple of years, and the trade-off is they get a high selection in the draft to develop a foundation. Vegas must have missed the memo and skipped that step. If the Knights do make the postseason, they’re going to have a goaltender between the pipes who knows a thing or two about the playoffs. Fleury must stay healthy, though. He’s already missed a significant part of the season. The Knights will look to keep it going in California after beating the Ducks. They make the short trip to Los Angeles from Anaheim where they’ll take on the Kings on Thursday night.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. L.A. Kings Pick
It’s quite the goaltending matchup in Los Angeles tonight, as two of the best goaltenders in the NHL from the last five years meet at the Staples Centre. Jonathan Quick is having a good year with a GAA of 2.23 and 0.928 save percentage. He’s led the Kings to a record of 22-11-4, as they’re putting a productive season together. However, they won just two of five before they went on Christmas break. The Golden Knights played last night in Anaheim, but the Kings had an extra day off. Including last night, Vegas has won nine of their last ten games. The only loss came in a shootout against the Hurricanes. In their last ten games, they’ve averaged 3.40 goals per game. Overall, 3.46 goals per game, which is absolutely mind blowing for an expansion franchise.
Fleury counters with a 1.97 GAA and 0.938 save percentage. He did not miss a beat after coming back from injury. If they are going to find success late this season, it’s going to come down to Fleury. There will come a team where their goal scoring starts to regress a bit and Fleury will have to steal games. Vegas are just on the heels of a big victory over Anaheim, 4-1. The Kings should be out for revenge in this spot as well. The Knights beat LA back on November 19th, 4-2. I can see a fresher Kings snapping the Golden Knights winning streak tonight. Vegas have done a superb job not letting their guard down, but I can see it happening on a back-to-back in California.
PICK: KINGS (-150)