The L.A. Kings are way out on the opposite side of the country, as they take flight against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Note that this is the last night of action before the NHL All-Star break. The schedule will begin up on Tuesday, with the ever so important second-half of the season begins. There are a plethora of teams bunched up there around the playoff cut-off mark, who will be made or broken. The most glaring newcomer to the fold is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The second they drafted Auston Matthews, the table was flipped and the Leafs were expected to have a team rising up in the next 2-3 years.
However, those plans have seemed to be moved up a year or two. There is still time to go in the season, plenty of time in fact, but things are looking really good for them. Now, though, let’s put the Leafs to the side for a minute, and talk about the game we have on tap tonight. Tonight we head to Carolina, where the Kings and Hurricanes meet for an east coast clash. How excited do you think the Kings are feeling to be in Carolina a day before the break?
This is their four game in a row on the road, with stops in Brooklyn, NYC, and New Jersey. They have one win to show for it thus far against the Devils, their last outing on the 24th. The Kings look to the Hurricanes now, where the Canes look to snap a four-game losing streak. This isn’t the ideal end of the first-half of the season that the Hurricanes were looking for. Not for a team that were 21-16-3 before the four losses. Now, they find them coming dangerously close to falling out of contention. This game is an important one for the Hurricanes. A game in which I see them needing to win badly heading into the break. Let’s get to it and find a winning pick on the ice to wrap the first-half up on a winning note.
The Kings found themselves in funks the two years they wont their Stanley Cups in 2011-12 and 2013-14. In fact, L.A. barely made the playoffs the first year, they just squeaked in and were expected to get bounced in the first or second round. Not the case, as the Kings rolled all the way to the Stanley Cup and winning it all. This year they’re in a funk, but I don’t think it’s one they’re going to be able to overcome. The Kings are struggling entering the All-Star break as well. Their win against the Devils was their first win in five attempts. And also, a win over the Devils isn’t impressing anybody.
L.A. have been trying to keep their heads above water without Jonathan Quick. Quick was the heart and soul of the Kings, along with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. Quick is injured, Brown has slowed down significantly, and Kopitar is right there with him. In a snapshot, that about sums the Kings’ season up well. They are scoring 2.48 goals per game, while allowing 2.46 per game. So, it’s been as vanilla as their 23-21-1 record. The Hurricanes have been scoring the puck nicely lately, posting 3.10 goals scored in their last ten games. Beyond the numbers, though, I could see the Kings falling asleep in this game. They’re far away from home on the tail-end of a road trip in Carolina. The Hurricanes find a way out of their four-game winning streak and get a win over the Kings.
PICK: HURRICANES TO WIN -118