The Kings and the Wild meet for the first time on Thursday night. Los Angeles has struggled out of the gate, while Minnesota has put together some quality wins. The Western Conference seems to be extremely competitive at the top. A win on Thursday night would be huge for either team early in the season.
Los Angeles have started the season out with a 2-6-1 record. The Kings are sitting in last place of the Pacific Division. Los Angeles is currently on a five-game losing streak. In those five straight losses, the Kings have not lost by less than two goals. Los Angeles needs to get a win on Thursday night to help boost their confidence.
Minnesota has jumped out to a 4-2-2 record, which is good enough to be fifth place in the Central Division. The Wild have put together a real impressive three game winning streak. Minnesota beat Arizona, Dallas and Tampa Bay on their winning streak. The Wild have two more games before hitting a seven-game road trip. Minnesota can use as many points as possible before a long road trip.
Minnesota and Los Angeles meet a total of three times this season. While this game is not a divisional rivalry, any points you can get in the conference add up. I believe that this is a really good chance for the Kings to end their losing streak. Minnesota’s winning streak is bound to come to an end at some point and the same goes for Los Angeles’ losing streak. This game could hit two birds with one stone.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Los Angeles Kings hosted the first game between these two teams last season. Minnesota jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second period, but four unanswered goals in the third period gave the Kings a 5-2 win. Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar each had three points, while Marian Gaborik had two goals.
The Wild hosted the second game of the season. Drew Doughty had another three points night, while Jeff Carter scored twice. Minnesota gave the Kings a fight, but ultimately lost 4-3 in overtime. Neither goalie had a game to remember as both Quick and Dubnyk finished under a 90 percent save percentage.
The third and final game between these two teams last season was in Los Angeles. Mikko Koivu had three points for Minnesota, but in the end the Wild came up short again. Dustin Brown scored four goals in route to a 5-4 overtime win for the Kings.
Los Angeles seemed to have Minnesota’s number last season as they were able to go a perfect 3-0 against the Wild. The Kings will look to continue that success on Thursday night as they hope to get themselves out of their current losing streak. Minnesota seemed to struggle to find an answer for the Kings, so it is possible it could be an issue again this season.
The Kings have one of the worst offenses in the NHL so far this season. Los Angeles has struggled to find the net consistently throughout the year. The Kings have potted 17 goals in 9 games. That is less than two goals a game on average. Los Angeles has a solid defense and good goalie, but they need to provide some offense to win. The Kings found success against the Wild last season, so they will hope they can kickstart their offense against Minnesota on Thursday night.
Minnesota has struggled to score goals as well. The Wild have scored 22 goals in 8 games. This is much better than the Kings though. The Wild have had a defensive identity for a while now, which means they do not always need to score a bunch of goals to win games. If Minnesota’s defense can shut down the Kings, I do not believe Los Angeles stands a chance in a defensive battle.
Like the Kings losing streak, the offense is bound to break out at some point. I believe that this is going to happen sooner or later. Los Angeles looked like their roster was primed for a playoff run when the season started, but they have not gotten it going. If the Kings cannot get their offense going soon, it may be too late to catch up.
I expect Devan Dubnyk to start in net for Minnesota on Thursday night. Dubnyk has posted a 3-1-2 record to begin this season. He has a save percentage of .944 and a 2.11 GAA. Dubnyk has started out the season strong number wise, but he will be tested against the Kings. Los Angeles seemed to have him figured out last season and I imagine they will come at him with similar intensity on Thursday night.
Jonathan Quick will likely be the starting goalie for the Kings. Quick has really struggled to begin the season. He has posted a .845 save percentage and a GAA of 4.55. He has gone 0-3-1 to begin this season. These numbers are shocking for Quick and I expect him to turn it around soon.
I believe there is a good chance that the Kings can end their losing streak on Thursday night. Los Angeles has found success against the Wild recently. Minnesota has also not been super impressive to begin the season either. The Wild are on a nice winning streak, but I do not think it will last much longer. Jonathan Quick has struggled, but he could turn it around with a win against the Wild.
BetOnline has Minnesota listed at a money line of -148. This implies that they will win this game 60 percent of the time. I believe the Kings are better than their record shows and they should be listed with closer to 45 percent chance odds to win. This gives the Kings pick a lot of value.