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Golden Knights vs. Kings preview: Rookie duo to make NHL debut

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Jake Leschyshyn Golden Knights forward

LOS ANGELES — For the second straight game the Golden Knights will have players making their NHL debuts.

Tuesday, it was Pavel Dorofeyev. Tonight, Jake Leschyshyn and Tomas Rondbjerg are expected to play their first NHL games when the Knights face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

Unlike Dorofeyev, both Leschyshyn and Rondbjerg played with the Golden Knights in the preseason and they have some familiarity with the system. Both were called up Wednesday after Dorofeyev and Jack Dugan were reassigned to Henderson of the AHL.

They’ll likely be paired on the fourth line with either Peyton Krebs, Keegan Kolesar or even Dylan Coghlan, who normally plays on defense but was thrust into a forward’s role after a slew of injuries forced the Knights to do some salary cap mathematics.

The team remains without Mattias Janmark (COVID-19 protocol), William Carrier (concussion protocol), Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden (injured reserve). 

Leschyshyn, a second-round pick of the Golden Knights, will join his father Curtis in playing in the NHL. Curtis Leschyshyn played 19 years as an NHL defenseman and won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996.

The big challenge when playing the Kings is Anze Kopitar. The veteran center terrorizes everyone, and the Golden Knights are no exception. 

“You always have to account for Kopitar,” Knights coach Peter DeBoer said when asked about preparing to play the Kings. “He’s so talented and he can hurt you in many ways.”

In 21 games against the Golden Knights, Kopitar leads the Kings in goals, assists and points (17-35–52). So yes, it might be a good idea to keep close tabs on the center.

Kopitar is one of five Kings to have played in all 21 regular-season games vs. Vegas. William Karlsson is the lone Golden Knights player to have done the same.

Vegas Golden Knights (1-0) vs. Los Angeles Kings (0-0)

  • When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
  • TV: AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain
  • Radio: 1340-AM
  • 2021 regular season series: Vegas won, 6-2
  • All-time series: Tied 10-10-1
  • Line (from Westgate SuperBook): Vegas -155; Total 5 1/2 Ov -115.

Golden Knights projected lineup vs. Kings

Forwards: Max Pacioretty-Chandler Stephenson-Mark Stone

                   Reilly Smith-William Karlsson-Jonathan Marchessault

                     Evgenii Dadonov-Nolan Patrick-Keegan Kolesar

                    Peyton Krebs-Jake Leschyshyn-Jonas Rondbjerg

Defense: Alec Martinez-Alex Pietrangelo

                Brayden McNabb-Shea Theodore

                Zach Whitecloud-Nicolas Hague

Goaltenders: Robin Lehner

                     Laurent Brossoit

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