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Knights on Ice — Two Old Men Ruin Everything
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Friday, October 15, 2021


Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are two of the oldest guys on the L.A. Kings roster. They’re so old that Drew Doughty actually referred to Kopitar and himself in that category post-game last night. Someone forgot to remind them that this is a young-man’s game. Outside the hockey world, Kopitar (34) and Doughty (just shy of 32) have had success in their careers, but in the NHL, they’re looking at the end.

“I know we’re getting older,” Doughty said, “but we’re still driven. We want to win again. That’s all we care about and we go out there and lead by example and play our butts off, and that’s what we’re going to do every night.”

And boy, were they driven last night with a 6-2 win at Staples Center. In the process, they ruined the coming-out party for two VGK draft picks.

Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg, both just 22, were playing their first NHL game. The “Kid” line was formed when they were put together with Peyton Krebs (20), who has a whopping 6 NHL games under his belt. The Kid/4th line played well before it was broken up when Mark Stone tweaked an injury he’d been dealing with midway through the 2nd period and did not return. Stone’s absence forced Coach DeBoer to move Krebs up in the lineup to fill the void.

But what I saw from the kids playing in their first NHL game was very encouraging. In a game where L.A. scored 6 goals, Jake and Jonas weren’t on the ice for any of them.

Robin Lehner was 7-0 in his last 7 games against the Kings; last night he was on the wrong side of this past stat, giving up 4 goals on 31 shots. But before you start banging the “I told you so” drum, the VGK’s number-one goaltender was pretty much left to fend for himself by a team that seemed totally uninterested in last night’s game. Why? It can’t be attributed to fatigue, as this was just the 2nd game of the season. It wasn’t the effects of a long road trip; a road game against L.A. is an hour flight.

Ironically, the VGK scored the first and last goals of the game, usually a good omen for the final result. Unfortunately, the Kings scored 6 goals between Shea Theodore’s opener and Chandler Stephenson’s closer. Stephenson has scored his two goals in 2 games, neither of which went into the net off his stick. Tuesday night’s game goal was deflected in off his right skate and last night’s final goal went in off of his left leg.

L.A.’s 6 unanswered goals were a first in VGK franchise history. They also gave up 47 shots, the most since Colorado’s 39 shots last season. The most shots Vegas has ever given up in a game were 49, but you have to go all the way back to October 21, 2017, in a game against the St. Louis Blues that Vegas won 3-2 in OT on a goal by William Karlsson. St. Louis tied that game with just 5:08 remaining with a goal by Alex Pietrangelo. Funny how things come full circle.

The VGK had the number-one penalty-killing unit in the NHL last season and L.A. had the second fewest goals scored in the abbreviated 56 games played. Only Buffalo scored less. So, L.A.’s 6 goals last night were a surprise — and then Vegas gave up 2 power-play goals in just 2 attempts.

Drew Doughty had 1 goal and 3 assists last night for a 4-point game. His last 4-point game was in his 2nd year in the league on January 4, 2010, against San Jose. Anze Kopitar had 3 goals and 2 assists for a 5-point night. The last time Kopitar had a 5-point night was on December 18, 2014, against St. Louis.

Vegas had a 3-on-1 late in the game and didn’t even register a shot on goal. Nic Hague decided to be unselfish and pass the puck. Take the shot, Nic. As Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

This was a game Vegas needs to file in the trash bin; there were just too many turnovers and mental mistakes. Often after a game like this, players and coaches will tell you they like to have another game the following night, so they can let this one disappear in their memory. But last night Reilly Smith and Coach DeBoer said that the 5 days off between games will be a good thing. Funny how they can answer the same question 2 different ways. Oh, the hurdles we’re faced with covering NHL teams.

My 3 Stars of The Game: Anze Kopitar (3G, 2A), Drew Doughty (1G, 3A), the VGK Kid Line (the only bright spot of the night for Vegas).

The next game is Wednesday Oct 20, 7 p.m. @ T-Mobile

Your comments and opinions are welcome here at Las Vegas Advisor or you may contact me directly at [email protected] or on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of Vegas Hockey Guy or on Twitter @TheRealJoePane

One other note: If you’re reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter and would like to access it earlier in the morning before I share it on social media, it’s usually published by 8 a.m. the morning after a game on LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game.

Theodore’s opening goal

Stephenson’s goal off his leg

Kopitar’s hat trick

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