Image licensed from USA Today Sports
The St. Louis Blues will look to pick up their fourth consecutive victory when they visit the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night in West Division action. St Louis is currently in second place at 13-8-2 after a 3-2 road win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night, cashing in as a -169 favorite on the moneyline. Los Angeles is back in sixth place at 9-8-4 after dropping a 3-2 game to the Arizona Coyotes as a slight -101 home underdog on Wednesday.
This is the fifth meeting of the season between the two games, with Los Angeles winning three of the first four in regulation as an underdog of +130 or more. Los Angeles won the last matchup 2-1 back on February 24 in St. Louis.
St. Louis locks down the Ducks
After a miserable ending to February where they earned just two points in a span of Span games, the Blues are back on track after sweeping a two-game set in Anaheim. All three St. Louis goals came on the power play on Wednesday, with Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford all finding the back of the net, and the Blues’ defense was in command as Anaheim only scored once before Rickard Rakell’s goal with nine seconds left.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 4, 2021
Torey Krug dished out two assists while Sundqvist also provided a helper on the Schenn goal midway through the second period. Jordan Binnington stopped 27 of 29 shots in a nice bounce-back performance following a disastrous showing last weekend against the San Jose Sharks.
“I thought (assistant coach Jim Montgomery) and the players really broke down how we were going to attack Anaheim’s penalty kill,” head coach Craig Berube said to the Associated Press. “These low plays around the net were open and they did a good job and took advantage of it.”
St. Louis has not been a good team against the spread at 6-17 while being favored in the vast majority of matchups this season, as all three of its wins during the current streak came by one goal. Overs are 13-10 for the Blues, although their last game against the Ducks went under the betting total of 5.5 goals.
The Blues have been a top 10 offense at 3.22 goals and 30.7 shots per game despite being shaky on the power play at 17.14%. St. Louis’ defense has been better lately but still does not have great numbers for the season at 3.09 goals and 29.8 shots per game allowed while killing off 74.39% of penalties.
David Perron leads the Blues with 23 points, while Schenn is the top goal scorer for St. Louis with 11 on 60 shot attempts. Binnington has been inconsistent, posting a 9-6-2 record with a 2.62 goals against average and 0.910 save percentage.
It’s a lengthy injury list for the Blues, led by star winger Vladimir Tarasenko who is hoping to return in mid-March from a shoulder problem. A whopping six other regulars are currently out of the lineup, with Jaden Schwartz, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Thomas and Ivan Barbashev out long-term. Tyler Bozak and Colton Parayko are hoping to return quickly from upper body injuries, and it is unclear if they will play with Friday.
Kings lose a tight one to Coyotes
After a six-game winning streak in February, the Kings have come crashing back to earth with three straight losses including Wednesday night against Arizona. The Coyotes scored three goals in the span of four minutes midway through the second period to go up 3-1, and Gabriel Vilardi’s third-period goal wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.
LA Kings within one of Arizona 🚨 pic.twitter.com/iq3xEONR6r
— LA Kings (@LAKings) March 4, 2021
The Kings racked up 42 shots on goal, but couldn’t solve Antti Raanta as only Vilardi and Drew Doughty found the back of the net. Jonathan Quick allowed three goals on 23 shot attempts, as Arizona got the win despite Los Angeles carrying the run of play.
“Obviously our penalty kill let us down tonight,” coach Todd MacLellan said to the Associated Press. “We made two critical mistakes, and they capitalized on the mistakes that we saw last year in our penalty kill. We think we’ve corrected them, and they’re creeping back in, so we’ve got work to do there.”
Los Angeles has been one of the best teams in the NHL against the spread at 16-5 , as it has been a plus money underdog in all but three games this season and has played better than expected. Overs are 12-9 for the Kings, although four of their last five games have gone under the betting total.
The Kings are might in the middle of the pack offensively at 2.9 goals and 28.7 shots per game while converting 25% on the power play. Los Angeles grades out about the same defensively at 2.76 goals and 31.5 shots per game allowed, and has done a very nice job on the penalty kill at 83.58%.
Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 24 points, while Dustin Brown has a team-high 11 goals and +5. Los Angeles has split playing time evenly in net, with Calvin Petersen outplaying by posting a 2.43 goals against average and 0.928 save percentage.
The Kings are relatively healthy at this stage, although promising young center Jaret Anderson-Dolan is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury after posting five points in six games. Winger Martin Frk is also out indefinitely with a lower body injury.
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
While the Blues have looked a little better winning three straight games, the streak has come against bad teams and they struggled against better competition in late February. Los Angeles is almost certainly not a playoff team, but has been one of the most profitable teams to bet on this season as it has played better than expected and should not be this much of an underdog against a shorthanded Blues team.
This is not nearly the roster St. Louis was hoping to have entering the season, as the Blues are currently dealing with key absences at every position other than goaltender. That seems to be hurting St. Louis on the defensive end more as metrics are not kind to the Blues, and Binnington can be all over the place from game to game.
Los Angeles is coming off a couple of tough losses, but carried the run of play in the last two games against Arizona and Minnesota, including posting an expected goals mark of 2.81 on Wednesday. The Kings have been the better team in this season in this head-to-head matchup, and will pull off another upset at home in this one.
Los Angeles Kings +115
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
While Binnington is coming off one of his best games of the season, it came against the NHL’s worst offense in Anaheim, and it’s difficult to trust him to post a similar line in this one. St. Louis’ expected goals allowed metric is well below the league average, and the Kings should be able to put a few in the net if they can maintain their level of play from the last few games.
The Blues have still been able to maintain a good level on offense even with the absences, and can certainly do enough against a middling Kings defense. St. Louis scoring three power play goals in its last game is also a promising sign, as that has been the biggest weakness for the Blues so far and even an average performance would be a big boost.
Over 5.5 (+105)