I made a single free NHL pick last night and my cold stretch continued with another loss.
I’d make the pick all over again, however, as the Sabres absolutely should have beaten the vulnerable Senators on the puckline.
On top of being one of the NHL’s worst road teams in a plethora of categories, the Sens were also playing their second game in as many nights with a goaltender that’s been shelled on the road this season.
Instead, Ottawa jumped on top with a 1-0 lead early and the Sabres had to chase the game from there. It was tied at two entering the third, but a trio of Ottawa goals obliterated my pick and the Sens were the puckline winners in this one in a 5-2 final.
Let’s put that terrible Sabres effort behind us and move onto tonight’s six-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 82-72-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Lightning vs. Kings from the Staples Center in L.A.!
Lightning vs. Kings Betting Odds
- Lightning (-220)
- Kings (+180)
- Lightning -1.5 (+115)
- Kings +1.5 (-135)
- Over 6 (-110)
- Under 6 (-110)
Lightning vs. Sabres NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Lightning managed to sneak out of Dallas with a point on Monday in their return from the break thanks to a late game-tying goal from Steven Stamkos and will likely be happy to get at least the single point despite an OT loss.
The single point continues their surge up the Eastern Conference standings as they’ve gone 7-2-1 over their last 10, although they’ve also dropped three of their last five after winning 10 games in a row.
Nonetheless, this Lightning team is getting results of late, something we knew would come as their record was not indicative of their play early on.
They don’t score as much on the road as they do at home and the Lightning rank 12th with 3.08 goals per game on the road – a full goal per game less than their 4.08 mark on home ice.
For whatever reason, their power play on the road is far less than half of their mark on the road as Tampa owns a 15.9% mark on the man advantage on the road compared to a mark north of 35% at home.
That said, the Lightning are among the best defensive teams in the league on the road and their goaltender has turned things around in a big way of late.
Tampa enters this one ranked sixth with 2.80 goals against per game on the road this season where their penalty kill sits seventh with a mark of 82%.
After a slow start himself, Andre Vasilevskiy has gotten his season turned around in a big way and is the hottest goaltender in the league at the moment.
He took the 3-2 OT loss on Monday, but Vasilevskiy still enters this one sporting an eye-popping 1.36 GAA and .955 Sv% in the month of January, going 7-0-1 across eight starts for the month.
He’s actually been excellent on the road for the majority of the season, posting a 2.28 GAA and .926 Sv% across 17 road starts, going 11-4-2 in the process.
All the sudden, the 25-year-old now owns a 2.55 GAA and .917 Sv% for the season, numbers that are approaching his Vezina Trophy-winning marks from a season ago.
The Kings will play their first game in 11 days tonight as they last played back on January 18th – a 4-1 loss to the Flyers.
The loss was their fourth in a row and their seventh defeat over their last eight games.
While the four straight losses were the final four games of a five-game road trip, the Kings have also dropped each of their last three at home where they played some quality hockey earlier in the season.
The problem of late, and for most of the season, has been putting the puck in the net.
The Kings have scored just seven goals over their last four games – good for 1.75 goals per game – and have scored just four goals over their last three at home during that aforementioned losing skid.
As a result, the Kings will enter this one ranked 26th with 2.73 goals per game at home this season where their power play also sits 26th with a measly 14.9% clip.
Now, the Kings have actually defended well at home this season, until late that is.
They enter this one ranked 12th with 2.73 goals against per game at home on the season, but have allowed 10 goals over their last three at home – or 3.33 per game.
They defensive unit could take a big hit tonight in the form of Drew Doughty potentially sitting this one out.
Doughty has missed two straight days of practice while dealing with an undisclosed injury, and he apparently is in jeopardy of missing tonight’s contest.
If he indeed sits this one out, it will be the first game Doughty has missed since the 2014 season and would snap his ironman streak at 460 games. Add in the massive amounts of ice time he logs and that’s a ton of hockey and mileage on that body.
Needless to say, it would be a huge blow for a Kings team that is facing an elite offense tonight.
The Kings haven’t named a starter for this one and they actually play tomorrow night as well, so I’m not about to guess who gets the nod.
If it’s Jack Campbell – as it has been in each of the last two games – he would bring a 2.89 GAA and .899 Sv% to the table, but also with a 2.65 GAA and .910 Sv% at home in six starts at the Staples Center.
Campbell has struggled of late, however, with an .846 Sv% over his last two games, stopping just 22 of 26 shots on both occasions.
If it’s Jonathan Quick, he will bring a 3.01 GAA and .896 Sv% into action, but also a 2.51 GAA and .912 Sv% in 16 starts on home ice.
Quick has played well of late, turning in a .929 Sv% over his last two starts including turning aside 35 of 38 shots in Tampa Bay his last time out.
There’s little doubt that the Kings are a better team at home, but they’ve also struggled severely at home of late and just have not gotten much offense going regardless of where they’ve played over this losing stretch.
Facing a good road defense and more importantly a red-hot goaltender isn’t likely to help matters, either.
The Lightning aren’t the same offense and power play on the road as they are at home, but are a candidate to explode at any time and could very well have their way with this Kings defense.
Missing Doughty would also be an enormous loss for the Kings and all signs point towards him sitting this one out for the first time in six years. He’s still the franchise player and the Kings won’t risk injury, especially in another lost season.
The bottom line here is that this Lightning team is a far superior team. The home/road splits matter, of course, but I’d be absolutely shocked if they went into the Staples Center and dropped this one to the lowly Kings.
I’m not laying the massive moneyline juice, but I am certainly a fan of those puckline odds so give me the road team to win this one by at least two goals tonight.