Opening night has arrived with the Kings set to take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday at Staples Center.
While this is the first game of 82 – not 56 as in last year’s pandemic-shortened campaign – the Kings are an organization that seeks a change in culture, attitude and reputation. They want to establish a firm direction as soon as possible.
Alternate captain and defenseman Drew Doughty said, “We have a tough matchup with the bat against Vegas, and we have to win there and see where the team is going and feel good about ourselves with each other.”
At 31, Doughty is the youngest member of the old guard, which also includes two-time Stanley Cup champions Ange Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick. Despite the overall youth movement in the organization and the acquisition of two veterans in their late 20s, Doughty said he did not see that quartet’s role changing significantly this season or in the near future.
“I don’t see it changing too much, maybe just putting that foot on the gas pedal a little more, now that we have a team that can compete for a playoff spot in my mind. It’s up to us.” Makes it exciting and we’re just looking forward to driving,” Doughty said.
The Kings’ starting winger will be Victor Arvidson, who was acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators; Defensive-minded center Philippe Danault brought in from the Montreal Canadiens to stabilize the Kings in the middle; and defenseman Alex Adler, a former divisional foe who had been a mainstay for the Vancouver Canucks.
Doughty was among those praised by the newcomer, as well as another who will make his NHL debut on Thursday, winger Vladimir Tkachev, who was kicked out of Russia’s Continental Hockey League by the Kings.
“He’s able to make plays in tight spaces, he’s able to slow down the game and speed it up when needed, and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Doughty, who noted Tkachev’s vision and hockey spirit. praised.
Winger Arthur Kaliyev, who played one game last season, will be in the lineup adding another dynamic offensive player and potential power-play contributor to the Kings’ mix. After some initial optimism, it appears that a lower body injury sustained by forward Lias Anderson on Saturday will prevent him from competing in the opener.
In goal, Cal Peterson and Jonathan Quick will likely split the first two games of the season – against Vegas on Thursday and against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday – although coach Todd McClellan committed to an opening-night starter with reporters in Wednesday’s season. did not do. Peterson signed a three-year, $15 million extension in the off-season.
“I’ve slowly established myself a bit, but I still have a lot to prove,” Peterson said. “I am comfortable and confident in this regard, that I know I can play at this level and be successful, but I want to prove myself even more and show what I believe in my eyes.” I’m so hungry, I can.”
Vegas opened its schedule on Tuesday after beating the expansion Seattle Kraken 4-3 in the franchise’s first game. Max Pacioretti had two goals and one assist, and his running mate Mark Stone contributed three assists.
Pacific Division favorite Vegas, who were just shy of two wins in their second Stanley Cup final in four campaigns last season, retreated significantly over the summer.
Marc-Andre Fleury, the team’s first pick in the 2017 expansion draft and last year’s Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goalscorer, was sent to Chicago in a controversial pay dump.
Robin Lehner has now become their No. 1 netminder, while salary cap space savings helped add free-agent goalkeeper Laurent Brossoit and business takeover Evgeny Dadonov, who played three campaigns with the Florida Panthers before spending the previous season with Ottawa. Scored 81 goals. .
Vegas also acquired former No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick in exchange for Cody Glass in the young forward’s swap, and re-signed former Kings defenseman Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension.
Kings in Vegas
When: Thursday, 7:30 pm
where: Staples Center
TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/iHeartRadio