NHL’s Western Conference race is wide open behind the Vegas Golden Knights

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      There’s no Stanley Cup hangover in Sin City as the Vegas Golden Knights continue their dominance of the NHL’s Western Conference. With a 13-4-2 record through their first 19 games, the Golden Knights look well on their way in securing home-ice advantage through next spring’s post-season.

      But what about the rest of the Western Conference? The Vancouver Canucks’ surprising start is the talk of the hockey world, and the Dallas Stars looked primed for another deep playoff run. Don’t count out the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, or a rejuvenated Los Angeles Kings lineup.

      On Tuesday’s episode of Daily Faceoff LIVE, Frank Seravalli and Colby Cohen give their current Western Conference’s power rankings and who they think are the most playoff-ready lineups.

      Frank Seravalli: I had a really hard time trying to place the Vancouver Canucks. That team has shot the lights out, I know they’ve hit a bit of a bump in the road in their last few games. We both agree that Vegas is the class of the conference so far, but the difference between our rankings is that I’ve got the Dallas Stars at number two behind the Golden Knights, and you’ve got the L.A. Kings at number two. Why do you like the Kings so high on your board?

      Colby Cohen: The style that they play. The way I watch them defend, how they dominate in the neutral zone, that’s going to be really difficult to play against in the playoffs. To me, the Kings and the Golden Knights play the most playoff-style hockey in the regular season. They’re both so thorough in the way they manage the puck, they’re so deep down the middle. For L.A., both Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty look reenergized, and you watch how teams struggle to get quality opportunities against the Kings.

      I know how Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan and Golden Knights’ head coach Bruce Cassidy preach these things; they’re talking about puck management over anything else. The way those two teams dominate in the neutral zone and slow things down, if you’re trying to generate offense through the center of the ice, you’re not going to do that against these two teams.

      It’s no disrespect to the other teams I have under L.A., like Colorado, Dallas or Vancouver, I just like the way the Kings defend the neutral zone better than those other three.

      Frank Seravalli: For me, Colorado just hasn’t been consistent enough this year, that’s why I have them at the bottom of the top-five. But I’m going to take your argument and apply it to the Dallas Stars, I think they’re easily the most playoff-ready team of all those teams, aside from the Golden Knights. The reason for that is the success they’ve had, they’ve gone on deep runs because their game translate so well to the playoffs.

      Maybe you can make the argument that the Kings couldn’t get past the Edmonton Oilers in the first round and might have gone on a playoff run if they had a different matchup, I’m not sold that’s the case, even though Todd McLellan’s disciplined neutral zone has been a huge key for them this year.

      You can watch the rest of the episode here…

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