The St. Louis Blues make the trip out west to California for a meeting with the L.A. Kings. The Blues are coming off a six-game home stand, where they went 3-3 on the sked. This will be their first game on the road in quite a while. They get a long-distance trip to L.A. to get things started in California. The Blues and Kings are teams who appear to be lost without an identity at the moment. No it isn’t all bad, the Blues and Kings are both above .500 and should be looking at the playoffs. However, it’s going to be tough to make much more out of their seasons.
This is the NHL after all though, a league which saw the Kings go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and win is a low seed a few years ago. Like in any sport, getting hot at the right time is all it can take. I think the magic has ran out for the Kings. In any event, it was a nice run for them, and they’re still floating around as a relevant team. I suppose we’ll see if they can find a way to regain some of the same magic they had.
In what is the last season for the legendary Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, the Blues are going to have to find better goaltending for him to go out a champion. The idea was that Jake Allen was going to just jump right in and take over the starting duties with no learning curve involved. Allen is finding out that being the primary starter and a spot starter are totally different things. He did a fine job in relief of Brian Elliott, making a pretty efficient tandem in net.
However, there have been leaks in the foundation with Allen, and he is currently in danger of seeing his save percentage fall below 0.90%. Last season if he was struggling it was fine, let him think about it and go to Elliott. There isn’t that luxury for the Blues this season, as the Blues, and Elliott for that matter, would be better served wearing a Blues’ jersey. We’ll see how Allen and the Blues handle the Kings tonight in L.A. Scroll down to find our exclusive NHL pick.
The Kings welcome the Blues after a 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars at home. This will be the Kings’ fourth in a row at home, with a win coming against the Wild and losses to the Red Wings and Stars. They come in with a record of 20-17-4. Considering were they were when they won their Stanley Cup in 2010-11, this has to be right where they want to be? The Kings had to fight just to make the playoffs that year, but clawed their way all the way to the Stanley Cup. They may have to find that same recipe again in 2017. A partial reason for their less than desirable record is because of Jonathan Quick. Quick has been out with an injury, giving way to the veteran Peter Budaj. Budaj has for the most part been a backup lifer in his eleven-year career. He hasn’t started full-time since 2010-11 with the Avalanche.
Budaj has been playing some of the best hockey of his career, though. What a quality defence can do for a goaltender. He holds a GAA of 2.13, a career high, along with a save percentage of 0.916%, another career high. Conversely, the Blues are trying to get Allen to settle in, but it’s been tough for him. Allen enters L.A. with a GAA of 2.70, including a 0.902% save percentage. The Blues have also been an abysmal 5-10-1 on the road, contrasted with the Kings who are 12-6-0 in L.A. at home. The Kings have been less than stellar on this home stand, while the Blues are just coming off a home stand of their own. I look for the Kings to play well tonight and make the Blues question Jake Allen yet again on Thursday night.
PICK: KINGS TO WIN -140