The LA Kings begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday night in Toronto at Scotiabank Arena. They’re coming off a productive day on Saturday at the Staples Center with a 4-3 win in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks. Those are two teams that have seen better days in the past decade, with the Kings winning the battle of has-beens at home.
Between the Blackhawks and Kings, they’ve won four Stanley Cups in the last decade, but there isn’t going to be a fifth this season or in the near future. The Kings are an aging core that are still holding onto what they did before, and while it was more than worth it, they’re finding out what happens when you keep that older talent around for too long. Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter all still in Los Angeles with the Kings.
They even added an aging Ilya Kovalchuk to the mix since their last Stanley Cup win in 2014. If we’re including the guy between the pipes, Jonathan Quick is still a member of the Kings as well. They were major contributors when days were brighter in LA, but their prime has come to past. That said, I think on the right team they’d still be able to help, though their contracts make it difficult to trade.
The Kings enter a point ahead of the Sharks and Wild in the Western Conference for last in the conference. The Sharks should be able to pull away from the Kings in the Pacific, likely leaving the Kings all along at the bottom of the division again in 2019-20. They will be searching for an upset in Toronto against the Maple Leafs tonight.
The Leafs are coming off a 11-round shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. It was a thrilling conclusion to a game that the Leafs nearly lost after a three-day break and catching the Flyers on a back-to-back. The win did nothing to take head off Mike Babcock behind the bench. Head below for our free Kings vs. Maple Leafs pick.
L.A. Kings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Maple Leafs have a plethora of talent on their team and that’s been the most frustrating part for fans. For a team with their talent, there are going to be greater expectations, especially after flaming out in the first-round every season. Mike Babcock was hired to get them way past that point and elevate into a Stanley Cup contender. He’s failed in that regard, so it’s no wonder why he is getting called out.
They’re loaded with talent offensively, and for the most part, they’ve been getting production with plenty of goals. Keeping leads and burying teams when they have a lead is a different story, though. The Leafs routinely allow teams to hang around. A better effort from their blue line and back checkers would be appreciated. Austin Matthews wants to be known as a two-way player, but him, along with other playmakers on this team, seem to fall asleep defensively.
The Leafs are a top-10 offence with 3.47 goals scored per game. However, they’re also a bottom-10 defence, having allowed 3.4 goals per game the Leafs aren’t going to find success with that. If they happen to meet the Bruins again in the first-round, it’ll be the same story with their defence unable to out muscle the physical Bruins. Jake Muzzin will return to the blue line after missing the Philadelphia game for personal reasons. He will be seeing his former employer for the first time in this one.
The Kings have been getting throttled defensively and aren’t likely going to see a break in Toronto. They enter dead last in the NHL with just over 4 goals against per contest. LA are the only team in the league who’ve surrendered an average of more than 4 goals a game. It’s been even worse for them on the road, where they’ve yielded almost 5 goals per game. The Kings will have to crash the crease around Frederik Andersen to have a chance at this upset tonight. With the Leafs allowing 3.17 goals per game at home in 2019-20, it may result in some success. Consider a look at the OVER at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto tonight.