It’s been a little while since I last released some NHL picks as I took some time off to clear my head and evaluate the league a little more as we get into the midway mark of the season for some clubs.
That said, I’ll be here the rest of the way looking to avenge a tough first half as we look to get things turned around with this Kings vs. Ducks NHL Pick from Anaheim!
- Season Record: 18-23
- Units: -5.88
Kings vs. Ducks Betting Odds
- Kings (-129)
- Ducks (+117)
- Kings -1.5 (+200)
- Ducks +1.5 (-240)
- Over 5.5 (-102)
- Under 5.5 (-108)
Kings vs. Ducks NHL Pick Breakdown
The Kings have largely surprised to the upside on offense this season, and are coming off a five-goal output in this matchup on Monday despite taking the 6-5 overtime loss in that one.
In the face of low expectations from an offense consisting of aging veterans from their Stanley Cup days and some young prospects trying to earn full-time jobs moving forward, the Kings’ offense has hun in there quite well.
They haven’t been world-beaters, but still sit tied for 15th alongside the Chicago Blackhawks with a solid 3.00 goals per game on the season, although their power play has done plenty of damage as they sit seventh with a 26.4% clip on the man advantage this season.
As a result, their even-strength offense hasn’t been so hot.
At 5v5 this season, the Kings rank 30th in scoring chances for/60 and 29th in both high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. Now, their 2.12 goals/60 at 5v5 this season isn’t astronomically above their 1.93 expected mark, however it’s pretty clear this Kings offense still remains a work in progress and hasn’t generated a whole lot of chances at even strength this season.
That said, after putting five on the board on Monday, the Kings have now scored nine times over their last two games after a five-game stretch in which they scored just 10 goals over their previous five games combined.
Like their offense, the Kings’ defense has probably performed better than expected, but also like their offense, the underlying results aren’t quite as good.
Overall, the Kings are tied for 14th alongside the Coyotes with 2.92 goals against per game this season, and their penalty killing has been solid while sitting in a 10th-place tie with the Hurricanes at 82.2%.
However, at 5v5, the Kings rank 21st in scoring chances against/60, 23rd in high-danger chances against/60 and 22nd in expected goals against/60 on the campaign. Their 2.34 goals against/60 is more or less in line with their 2.25 expected mark, so it appears the team has essentially deserved its 5v5 fate when we factor in the penalty killing into the overall, slightly-above-average number.
It hasn’t been a great run of late, however. The Kings have surrendered at least three goals in six straight games, and have lost five of the six in the process. They’ve also allowed an average of 3.67 goals per game during that stretch, so it’s not a major surprise to see them entering this one fairly cold following a streak of seven straight games with a point.
With a perfectly healthy back end, however, the Kings’ blueline will certainly look for a bounce back from Monday night’s losing effort.
With Jonathan Quick still listed as day-to-day after missing Monday’s game and leaving Saturday’s game late with an injury, we can only assume that 26-year-old Cal Petersen will get a chance for redemption after allowing those six goals on Monday.
It was actually the second straight subpar effort from Petersen after he yielded three goals on just 22 shots in a loss to the Blues on Friday. The American netminder has posted an ugly .809 Sv% through two March outings this season.
Truth be told, however, he’s largely been solid for the Kings this season, turning in a 2.74 GAA and .914 Sv% across 12 starts (13 appearances), going 4-4-4 in that time as he’s been on the wrong end of the puck-luck spectrum.
If Quick indeed returns for this one, he’ll carry a 2.87 GAA and .898 Sv% across 12 starts into action, going 6-4-2 in that time. The 34-year-old veteran has been utilized heavily by the Kings over the years, and it’s no surprise to see him having his third consecutive subpar season here in 2021, and after posting a .925 Sv% in February, he too has struggled to the tune of an .875 Sv% across two March outings.
It was a rare offensive outburst for the Ducks on Monday as their six goals nearly tripled their average for the season entering that one. At the end of the day, however, this remains one of the weaker groups in the business.
The Ducks have climbed out of the league’s offensive basement, but still sit 29th with 2.31 goals per game on the season with a power play of 13.3% that sits just one spot better at 28th.
The underlying metrics are a little more favorable, but not by a lot. At 5v5 this season, the Ducks rank 19th in scoring chances for/60 and 21st in both high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60. With their 2.20 goals/60 actually sitting slightly ahead of their 2.08 expected mark, it would appear that they have more or less deserved their even-strength offensive fate. When you add in the weak man advantage, you get your 29th-ranked offense.
That said, like the Kings, they could be feeling it entering this one. The Ducks have now scored 11 goals over their last two games and at least three in five of their last eight. They’re also two for their last three on the power play over their last two games to boot.
It’s difficult to see their high-scoring ways continuing much longer given the personnel up front at this point, but crazier things have happened.
Here’s where the Ducks could be in trouble in this one as they look far better defensively on the surface that what lies underneath.
Overall, the Ducks are tied for 16th with 3.04 goals against per game on the season and their so-so 79.5% mark on the penalty kill puts them smack-dab in the middle of the league at 15th.
However, the Ducks also rank 26th in scoring chances against/60, 29th in high-danger chances against/60 and 27th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.53 goals against/60 is actually above their 2.34 expected mark, but as we should have expected before the season, this team is one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
Not helping matters is the injury bug affecting two of their top three defenders. No. 1 blueliner Hampus Lindholm fractured his wrist at the end of the February and will be out six weeks while it’s been announced that Josh Manson will miss another game tonight due to a lower-body injury. Manson has appeared in just six games due to an oblique injury and potentially a new lower-body ailment.
Even at full capacity the Ducks’ blueline is one of the weaker groups in the league, but injuries have decimated their top four and the defensive picture doesn’t look pretty as a result.
Like with the Kings, we still aren’t sure who will man the crease tonight for the home side.
You would think John Gibson would get the nod, of course, especially after Ryan Miller gave him a rare breather on Saturday. However, Gibson was unable to stop some recent bleeding despite getting the fortunate win on Monday despite allowing that five-spot.
In four March outings, Gibson owns a brutal 3.74 GAA and .870 Sv%. We got back further, he’s the not-so-proud owner of an .878 Sv% over his last nine games. In other words, he has come crashing down to earth after a red-hot start to the season that kept the Ducks in many games in the early going.
If Dallas Eakins goes back to Miller, he’d carry a 3.13 GAA and .891 Sv% into action across five starts and six appearances, most recently yielding four goals in that 5-4 OT loss to the Avalanche on Saturday. He’s only logged one start over the last 13 days.
Kings vs. Ducks NHL Pick
I’m not sure we should expect the fireworks to repeat themselves in this one, at least not on the Ducks’ side.
Anaheim’s offense just isn’t good enough to sustain what they have done over the last two games, but I’m more so concerned about that back end that’s missing two of its best three defensemen. Usually, Gibson is there to bail his back end out, but he’s enduring his second consecutive subpar season and is in danger of setting new career-lows after doing so just last season.
Petersen also hasn’t been great of late, but has been the better goaltender on an overall basis and will play behind the superior defensive teams in this one, should he start. Even if it’s Quick, I’m the Kings’ side here.
I believe the Kings have the advantage up front, on the blueline and on special teams and in goal should Petersen start. Add it up and I’ll take the Kings to win tonight’s rematch on the moneyline.