The NHL has a great slate of games going into Saturday. Ten games will be up on the board throughout January 16. One of these games will be between the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings. These two teams will look to earn a win in the second half of a back to back to open up this season. This game will drop the puck at around 9:00 PM Eastern time.
The Wild finished out last season with a record of 35-27-7, which had them in sixth place of the Central Division. Minnesota met up with the Vancouver Canucks in the qualifiers, where they lost in a four game series. The Wild were able to win their opening night and will look to keep it going with a win in this one. I expect Minnesota to try and come out strong in this one.
Los Angeles posted a record of 29-35-6 throughout last season, which had them in seventh place of the Pacific Division. The Kings were beaten by Minnesota on opening night and will look to bounce back at home. Los Angeles is still in the middle of their rebuild, but have a chance to compete in a West division that has a weaker bottom half of the division.
These two teams will look to come out strong in this one as they are looking for a big win in this one. The Wild are coming off a strong win in overtime on Thursday night and will look to build upon that. Los Angeles had a really slow start to last season and will look to get going quicker this season. The Kings are at home and will look to use that to their advantage in this one.
The Wild and the Kings met up three times throughout last season. Minnesota hosted the first game on October 26. Ben Hutton scored the only goal for Los Angeles on the night. Mathew Dumba had two assists on the night. Five different players scored for the Wild in route to the win. Alex Stalock stopped 30 of 31 shots to help lead Minnesota to a 5-1 win.
The second game of the season series shifted to Los Angeles on November 12. Mathew Dumba had the lone goal for the Wild in this one. Anze Kopitar and Sean Walker both had a goal and an assist for the Kings. Jeff Carter scored as well, while Jonathan Quick turned away 27 of 28 shots to help lead Los Angeles to a 3-1 win at home.
The Kings also hosted the third and final game of the season series on March 7. Marcus Foligno scored a goal and an assist, while Mats Zuccarello had two assists. It was not enough for the Wild though. Dustin Brown had three goals and an assist, while Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists. Los Angeles was able to finish the season with a 7-3 win.
The first game of this season series was on Los Angeles on Thursday night. Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist and Anze Kopitar added two assists. The Kings fell short on the night though. Kirill Kaprizov had a great debut scoring a goal and two assists. Kaprizov’s goal came as the game winner in overtime to give the Wild a 4-3 win.
Minnesota had a solid power play last season, but struggled on the penalty kill. The Wild scored 46 goals on 216 power play opportunities, which was a 21.4 percent success rate. Minnesota’s penalty kill gave up 47 goals on 206 power play chances, which is a 77.2 percent penalty kill. The Wild will look to improve on the penalty kill throughout this season.
The Kings power play and penalty kill struggled throughout last season. Los Angeles was able to capitalize on 33 of their 193 power play attempts, which was a 17.1 percent power play. The Kings held opposing teams to 33 goals on 190 power play chances, which was a 77.4 percent kill rate. Los Angeles will need to improve on both sides of special teams throughout this season.
These two teams were not great on special teams last season, but Minnesota has the edge with a stronger power play. In the opening night game, the Kings went 1-4 on the power play, while the Wild went 0-6. Los Angeles needs to avoid getting in the box in this one though because Minnesota will eventually break through if they get another six power play opportunities.
Cam Talbot will likely get the start in the crease for the Wild in this one. Talbot had a solid season with the Calgary Flames last season. He earned a record of 12-10-1 throughout the season. Talbot finished with a .919 save percentage and a GAA of 2.63 through his starts. In the first game this season, Talbot stopped 31 of 34 shots to help Minnesota earn the win.
Jonathan Quick will likely get the nod in net for Los Angeles on Saturday night. Quick struggled a bit last season with the Kings. He finished with a record of 16-22-4 through his starts. Quick had a save percentage of .904 and a 2.79 GAA. Quick turned away 23 of 27 shots throughout the opening night game and will look to have a better performance in this one.
Talbot had the better season overall last season, but had a much better team in front of him. Quick struggled in the season opener, while Talbot had a nice debut with the Wild. Los Angeles was able to get a lot of shots on Talbot, but could not break through enough. I expect the Kings to try and turn it around early by getting better opportunities on net.
Minnesota is coming off a big win on opening night in overtime, but I believe that the Kings will be able to bounce back in this one. Los Angeles had the better overall performance in my opinion and if Quick can bounce back, the Kings should be able to earn the win. If Los Angeles can come out strong, I like the odds of the Kings pulling off the upset.
BetOnline has the Wild listed as a -141 against the money line in this one. This implies that Minnesota will win this game around 58.5 percent of the time. I think that the Wild are the better team, but this game should be closer to even. It is still early in the season and players are trying to get their legs back under them. As a big underdog in this one, I like the value on the Kings.