By W.G. Ramirez
In what is supposed to be a territorial rivalry out of the Pacific Division, the Golden Knights have been dominant in the series, after sweeping the opening round of the playoff last year.
We are 11-5 with totals involving the Golden Knights, and on a 4-3 run with top-rated power plays throughout the league.
As of 11 a.m. Pacific, Vegas is laying anywhere from -145 to Los Angeles.
Value in the Knights
Vegas did its best to slip up against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. But back-to-back third-period goals in 12 seconds by Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Tuch lifted the Golden Knights to their seventh win in eight games. With the near-letdown out of the way, and one day to prepare for the Kings — not to mention a short trip across the state line — Vegas should be mentally and physically prepared for the worst team in the league. Overall, since joining the league, the Golden Knights are 6-1-1 against the Kings.
Value in the Kings
If there is one thing Los Angeles has going for it in this series, it’s that it has gone 1-0-1 against Vegas inside Staples Center. Opening the 2018-19 series at home may be beneficial for the Kings, who play Vegas five times this season — thrice in Los Angeles. The Golden Knights will see a familiar face today, as the Kings claimed forward Brendan Leipsic off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 3. Leipsic played in Vancouver’s overtime win in Las Vegas earlier this season, and has already recorded his first goal as a King and his third goal of the season. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Leipsic with a pep in his step for this game, while igniting the Kings.
As of 11 a.m. Pacific, the line we’re seeing is 5 1/2-Under -110.
We’re leaning toward the Under in this one, as it’s hard to imagine two things: Vegas getting ramped up for the Kings, when it has Dallas on deck, and the Kings being able to penetrate goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who will start today, per Gerard Gallant. The Kings rank last in the league with just 2.1 goals per game, while Vegas — as offensive as it’s been — is still only 17th in the league with 3.0 goals per contest. It’s been an emotional and tiring week for the Golden Knights, so setting a fast pace might be hard. Let’s play this one Under today.
W.G. Ramirez is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas who covers the Vegas Golden Knights for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @WillieGRamirez.