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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
Los Angeles Kings
20-12-6 (2nd in Pacific Division)
19-12-2 (4th in Central Division)
Kevin Fiala (35)
Mikko Rantanen (43)
Gabriel Vilardi (15)
Mikko Rantanen (24)
Kevin Fiala (25)
Nathan MacKinnon (26)
Mikey Anderson (10)
Erik Johnson (8)
Trevor Moore (3.11)
Shots (Per Game)
Nathan MacKinnon (5.22)
The Los Angeles Kings will travel to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche before heading home. The Kings are currently in second place in the Pacific Division but could inch closer to that first spot with a win. On the other side, the Avalanche are tied for the first Wild Spot with the Seattle Kraken but could take sole possession of it with a win or loss in overtime.
The Kings have a solid offense but struggle defensively and have a subpar goaltending duo. I expect them to make the Playoffs due to their offensive prowess, but it is unlikely they will be able to make a deep run with their current defensemen and goaltenders.
The Kings do not have the youngest squad but have some studs in Kevin Fiala, Anze Kopitar, and Gabriel Vilardi. Fiala is the best player in this group and leads the Kings with 35 points. Kopitar is in the back half of his career and has 29 points. Vilardi is the most talented goal-scorer in this group and leads the Kings with 15 goals.
I had very little hope for the Kings’ goaltenders at the beginning of the season, but there might be some hope now with backup Phoenix Copley. Copley has only been on the Kings’ roster for less than a month but has performed at a surprisingly high level. The 30-year-old is 7-1-0 and only allowing 2.43 goals per game. I still believe the Kings’ goaltenders are subpar, but the call-up of Copley makes me more optimistic.
The Avalanche are not having a Stanley Cup hangover, but they could be having a better season. They are in the opposite situation of the Kings. Their defense and goaltending is solid, but their offense is slow and averages less than three goals per game. However, they have maintained much of their roster from last season, so I would not be surprised if they make a deep run in the Playoffs.
The Avalanche’s offense may be slow, but they possess offensive weapons. Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Cale Makar are all reliable sources offensively and have at least 31 points. The Colorado offense may be slow, but these players are not.
Alexander Georgiev has stepped up since Pavel Francouz went down with an injury. Georgiev has played in 24 of Colorado’s 33 games and has a 15-7-2 record. The goalie is not an elite player, but he is consistent and largely responsible for keeping Colorado in the playoff race.
Both teams are missing some key players (the Avalanche more than the Kings), but I have to give the edge to the Avalanche. Colorado has home-ice advantage, and their goaltending can save them when necessary.
The Kings are the underdogs and on the road but will win if they pass to Gabriel Vilardi and take advantage of the Avalanches’ injuries.
Gabriel Vilardi had a hot start to the season but has slowed down a little. However, he is still performing well and converting a little over 20% of his shots. Vilardi’s teammates need to pass him the puck and give him opportunities to get good shots.
The Kings are missing a few guys but are still healthier than the Avalanche. They need to take advantage of this by playing with energy. If they do, the Avalanche will likely be unable to match them.
The Avalanche are playing shorthanded but will win if they score first and have strong goaltending.
The Avalanche need to get the home crowd on their side and can do this by scoring first. That will push the energy in their direction and significantly increase their chances of winning.
As I mentioned above, the Avalanche have a solid goaltender in Alexander Georgiev. However, Georgiev gave up five goals in their previous game to the Arizona Coyotes. The 26-year-old must return to form tonight and be a brick wall in net.
Alex Iafallo has missed a lot of time with injury but has been impressive in his short time this season. Iafallo has played in 15 games and has five goals and seven assists. More importantly, Iafallo is coming off a one-goal, one-assist game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Iafallo must continue playing strong hockey and find a way to score once again today.
Cale Makar is one of the NHL’s best defensemen. He plays over 20 minutes a game and plays both sides of the puck well.
Makar will have his hands full with the likes of Kevin Fiala, Gabriel Vilardi, and Anze Kopitar. He must bring his A-game and make life difficult for all of the Kings’ centers and wingers.
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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