If there was ever an important part of the season for the LA Kings, it would be just about now. We all know what the Kings are capable of once they are in the playoffs, but they’re going to have to make it to the playoffs first before that can happen. During their first recent Stanley Cup run a few years ago they barely squeaked in and of course went on to win it all. Right now they are on the outside looking in, currently 9th in the Western Conference with 82 points (Note: this was written during their game last night against the Devils). A win against the Devils last night would put them in a tie with the Calgary Flames for the last playoff spot. I really can’t bet against the Kings after all they’ve done. I don’t see them as good as the two teams that won the Cup, but if they get in I don’t think we are going to see many people proclaiming they don’t have a chance. But do you think the Kings would be able to make it three improbable Stanley Cup runs? I can tell you one thing, if they do, it would be the quietest dynasty’s in all of sports.
The Kings’ opponents tonight, the New York Rangers, have long solidified a playoff position. They are tied for 1st in the NHL overall, tied with the Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks. The most remarkable thing about the Rangers is that they have doing it without their leader and starting goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. Backup Cam Talbot has been putting on quite the roll and if he continues at this pace, the Rangers may be faced with a hard question of whether they should go with Henrik if he comes back healthy or stick with Talbot in the playoffs. I have to think they give the nod to Lunqvist given his experience in the playoffs and the leader he can be this time of season. However, if they do go with Talbot, I imagine he is going to have a fairly short leash on him. Any indications of him slipping will get him yanked quickly. It isn’t a bad problem for the Rangers to have, because it would without a doubt give them the best 1-2 goalie combo. Tonight they’ll try and fend off the hungry Kings at home.
L.A. Kings @ N.Y. Rangers
The Rangers will have to stay confident and keep things in perspective as they head into the playoffs shortly. With a record of 46-18-2-5 they have thoroughly dominated their competition. But how many times have we seen a team do this in the regular season and then fizzle out in the playoffs. In more than any professional sport we see it happen in the NHL. College sports is like the NHL, any team has the potential to win. In the NBA you can pretty well guarantee who is going to be there at the end. In the NHL it is definitely a different story. The Rangers have thrived behind a strong defensive unit. On the season they are allowing only 2.22. goals in per game, which ranks 2nd in the NHL behind the Montreal Canadiens, the same team they are tied with in the Eastern Conference for 1st place. So if you need an indication that defense is the deciding factor in the NHL there it is.
The Kings have took a step back a little bit, but are still a great defensive team and have shown signs of getting better lately as well. Overall they are 8th in the NHL defensively. In their last ten games they’ve allowed only 2.20 goals per game. But take a look at this number from the Rangers: 1.10 goals allowed per game in their past ten. That has really been the story of Cam Talbot in net. I see this being a defensive battle. The type of game you come to expect in the playoffs. As such, I am making a play on the UNDER 5 tonight.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-109) 5DIMES.EU – BEST ODDS