The LA Kings, despite little confidence in them at the beginning of the season, have looked pretty good thus far. We know how it is with the Kings, just make it into the playoffs and see what happens. For a couple of those seasons the Kings turned it into a Stanley Cup. There are a lot of good teams this season who look like they could end up contenders in the end. It is pretty difficult to pick two teams that will be in the finals because of the parity involved in the NHL. This isn’t the NBA. In the NBA there are only three or four teams worth anything with any real chance. In the NHL the league is wide open and it lends itself to an exciting playoff season. In the NBA can we just fast forward to the conference finals? We know who is going to end up there. I cannot confidently say that in the NHL. However, if you were to make an educated guess, the Kings and Blackhawks are not the worst choices. Even as a team that is flying way under the radar, the Kings may still pull off some magic.
The LA Kings enter tonight with a record of 17-8-1, they’ve won four straight games and the defense is looking like a Kings’ defense. They are winning with a brand of hockey that people have associated with them. And that is when the Kings are at their best, playing defense and forcing opposing teams into mistakes. When their defense is playing at its peak, the offense doesn’t have to turn in many goals. They have been doing an adequate job of doing that. Just after the roster changes in the offseason, it seemed like the Kings would be struggling to find success this season. But like the Blackhawks, the Kings have seemingly just reloaded and moved forward.
Their opponent tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets, have been saved by John Tortorella. 11-16-1 doesn’t look like much of anything, but consider where they were at the start of the season, just looking for one win. Since starting the season 0-8, the Blue Jackets have gone 11-9, a great transition for them. There is still work to be done, but the Jackets averted a complete meltdown by acting swiftly by hiring Tortorella. The Kings and Blue Jackets meet tonight in Ohio.
LA Kings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Pick
Tortorella isn’t shy about being a bit aggressive towards his players who aren’t giving a total effort. Earlier in the season he was on the back of Ryan Johansen because he complained that he wasn’t in good enough shape. Recently Tortorella benched veteran Scott Hartnell because he felt he wasn’t giving much of an effort on the ice. Johansen has been playing much better with 6 goals and 13 assists, and Hartnell and the Jackets responded the day after his benching with a 4-1 win over the Flyers. The Blue Jackets have improved drastically on defense. Overall they were last in the NHL the first few weeks of the season, they are now 23rd in the league, allowing 2.86 goals per game. But in their last ten games they have allowed only 1.80 goals per game, major improvements were made.
The Blue Jackets were scoring only 2.10 goals per game in those ten games, so it was all about the defense. Much like the LA Kings, who are 2nd in the NHL with 2.08 goals allowed per game, trailing only the Rangers. In their last ten games they have given up 2.10 goals per game. This has the makings of a 2-1 hockey game. I think the Kings edge the Blue Jackets out, but the price is too steep for me. I will make the play on the UNDER 5.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (+110)