The New Jersey Devils got off to a great start on the west coast, with a win against the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks losing at home, even against inferior opponents, has been well documented this season. The Devils became another statistic for the San Jose Sharks. Season ticket holders that go to most games must believe they are watching a below .500 team. Not the case, the Sharks are playing great hockey on the road. Anyway you split it though, the Devils had to feel good about the win against the Sharks. However, there is no time to relax in California, the Devils have a big test on their hands Saturday night in LA. It’s easy to relax too much and not play your best hockey on the opposite side of the country against one of the best teams in the league.
We’ll see how the Devils perform on the heels of their win over the Sharks. It was only their third win in their last ten games. The Devils are theoretically still alive in the playoff hunt, but they are still a year or two away from hitting that. The Devils enter with a mark of 32-29-7. They would need a tremendous push to defy the odds and reach the postseason.
The Kings have defied the odds, or should I say, the experts and pundits this season. LA was expected to be decent but not a 40-22-4 team. They feel like a dark horse team to me. As much as people want to talk about the Washington Capitals, what about the Kings? LA has proven they are capable of playing well in the playoffs and they’ve been playing extremely well this regular season. They are a legitimate contender who I see going far in the playoffs. The Devils need to find some offense to add to their roster in the offseason for them to get to the same level. The Devils’ offense has gone through some minor outbursts, but nothing that has sustained over the course of a couple weeks, or even a week for that matter. Let’s look for a winner Saturday night, as we are coming off the heels of a winning pick.
NJ Devils vs. LA Kings NHL Pick
The New Jersey offense has been a major liability. This was supposed to be the breakout party for Adam Henrique this season. While he has played good hockey, with 23 goals and 19 assists, he isn’t at the point of being the franchise player the Devils are seeking. He can still be that, there is no doubt about it. Henrique led the Windsor Spitfires to a Memorial Cup, so he knows what being a champion feels like. There is going to be a big microscope on him next season, and if the Devils do find some nice talent to go along with Henrique, we could see his numbers elevate substantially. As it is this season, the Devils are dead last in the NHL, with 2.19 goals per game. They are .13 goals behind second last.
The offense has had its moments, but in their last ten games they have been pretty consistent in their season long numbers, as they’ve averaged 2.20 goals in their last ten games. What has been a little off from the script has been their defense, which has allowed 3.40 goals in their last ten games. The Devils need net-minder Cory Schneider to make an improbable playoff push possible. Schneider went down against the Stars a couple games ago, and while Keith Kinkaid played well against the Sharks, a 3-0 shutout, I don’t expect that kind of production to continue. Kinkaid owns a 6-6-1 record, with a 2.56 GAA and 0.909 save percentage. The Devils should also find it difficult to score against the Kings tonight, a team who are tied for 1st in the NHL in goals allowed per game. I see the NJ Devils having a setback after their win against the Sharks. There should be a 3-1 or 4-1 final in favor for the Kings in store tonight at the Staples Center.
PICK: LA KINGS -1.5 (+115)