The Golden Knights skate into the City of Angels riding a four-game winning streak and will battle the Kings on Friday night in the first of two back-to-back games between these divisional rivals. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings
Friday, March 19, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at Staples Center
The Golden Knights swept the Blues on the road then returned to Sin City to dispatch the Sharks in a two-game set. Now they are back on the highway with a pair against the Kings, a team they beat twice in Las Vegas earlier this year. The Knights sit atop the West Division with a 20-6-1 record and are among the stingiest defensive teams in the league, allowing only 2.22 goals per game, trailing only the New York Islanders (2.20).
However, the last time they took the ice the Knights were uncharacteristically generous in their own end, allowing the Sharks to enter the third period with a 3-1 lead on Wednesday night but a four-goal outburst by the Knights in the final frame put another notch in their holster as they secured a 5-4 victory.
Cody Glass and Alec Martinez lit the lamp with third-period power-play goals, a good sign for a special team’s unit that has connected on just 18.8 percent of their man-advantaged opportunities, ranking them 22nd in that category. It was a chippy game all-around with Knights’ captain Mark Stone and diminutive center Jonathan Marchessault trading blows with the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl and captain Logan Couture, respectively.
Kings Back on Track
The Kings had dropped seven of their last nine before Wednesday night’s win over the Blues. The first of two with St. Louis had been postponed as LA was snowbound in Denver after losing to the Avalanche on Sunday. Thus, the team got a welcome reprieve before getting back on the
ice on Wednesday and the fresh legs were evident as they took a commanding 3-0 first-period lead before salting away the 4-1 victory.
Los Angeles boasts a top 10 power-play unit, connecting on 25.7 percent of their man-up opportunities, and Drew Doughty continued their impressive special teams’ efforts with a power-play goal only minutes into the opening period. Carl Grundstrom and Trevor Moore scored even-strength goals in the same period while Anze Kopitar tallied an empty-netter in the third period to seal the deal.
It was a win the team needed badly and head coach, Todd McLellan said, “The Colorado trip, it was hard on us. A lot of things happened on that trip with illness, the storm, with us not playing very well (and) losing both games, and then spending that extra day there didn’t help. I thought our leaders did a tremendous job.”
Wanna Make a Bet?
Marc-Andre Fleury is an elite goaltender but his intense workload appears to be taking its toll. MAF started 17 of the Knights’ last 18 games and the four goals he allowed on Wednesday was a sharp deviation from his stellar 1.87 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
And now that backup Robin Lehner has returned from what he described as a concussion, which has sidelined him since the second week of February, it’s likely Fleury will get a breather on Friday night. But regardless, this spot bodes well for the Kings because they will either get a gassed Marc-Andre Fleury or a rusty Robin Lehner who didn’t exactly shine before his injury, owning a 2.96 GAA and a .890 save percentage.
The early NHL odds being offered by the best online sportsbooks are showing the Knights as -195 road favorites which means the Kings are returning about +155 to +160 on the get-back.
The two games these teams played against each other earlier in the season were both won by the Knights on their home ice. But the venue has shifted to LA for this one and there is definitely a precedent for the Kings cashing as big underdogs. All we have to do is look at their last two meetings against the Knights last season in which LA won both (5-2, 4-1) and returned a big payout as +229 and +276 road dogs.
The Kings boast upper-tier special teams’ units and enough offensive firepower to exploit a team whose goaltending choices might not be optimum heading into this game. Let’s take advantage of what the oddsmakers over at SugarHouse are giving us on this live home pup and put a wager on the Kings on Friday night.
NHL Pick: Kings +160 at SugarHouse