Monday night in Hollywood, the St. Louis Blues (24-20-9) and Los Angeles Kings (21-26-6) will face off for one final time this season. The Blues enter the game on a three-game losing streak but with their spot as the four-seed in the West Division clinched, while the Kings have dropped their last two games and sit next-to-last in the West.
Despite their nine-point difference in the standings, it’s L.A. who has won five of the seven matchups between these teams this season. However, it’s St. Louis who’s a -144 favorite on the road, while L.A. is +122 at home.
By the Numbers
Starting with some offensive numbers, the Blues have the edge. St. Louis is 14th in the NHL with 2.91 goals per game on a little over 29 shots while also ranking 10th with a 22.1 percent power play rate. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is just 24th with 2.64 goals on 28.7 shots and sits 17th with a 19.6 percent power play rate.
Defensively, the advantage slides over to the home team. The Kings are 19th with 2.94 goals allowed per game on about 31 shots, while the Blues are 21st with 3.08 goals allowed on 30 shots. However, the biggest difference resides on the penalty kill, where Los Angeles is ranked seventh in hockey with an 83.4 percent kill rate, and St. Louis is just 28th with a 76.8 percent kill rate.
Who to Watch
Starting with the Blues, there are now two names sitting atop their points list. Left wing David Perron in one of them with 51 points after scoring his 16th goal of the season Saturday against Vegas. But the other joining him is center Ryan O’Reilly, whose recent four-game streak helped give him a team-high 24 goals as part of his 51 total points.
Behind those two, the next highest on the points list are left wing Mike Hoffman and center Brayden Schenn at 33 points each. Between them, Hoffman has more goals (17 to 14) and has hit the 33-point mark in four fewer games.
One player who has been hitting his stride is defenseman Justin Faulk. In his second year in St. Louis, Faulk has 15 assists, four of them coming within the last week, to go along with six tallies.
Switching to the Kings, center Anze Kopitar has a commanding lead on the points list. The veteran captain is up to 50 points, 37 of which coming via assists, in 53 total games this season.
The veterans continue to lead the way for the Kings with defenseman Drew Doughty and right wing Alex Iafallo. Doughty has been held without a point for his last three games but is still second on the team with both 26 assists and 34 points. As for Iafallo, the 27-year is next on the points list with 29, two behind the injured Dustin Brown, after netting points in three of his last four games.
Two overlooked names for L.A. that have had big weeks entering Monday are center Gabriel Vilardi and defenseman Sean Walker. Vilardi has three goals and an assist during his three-game point streak, bumping him up to 22 points total. As for Walker, he has two goals and four assists over the course of his three-game run, significantly upping his point total to 17.
There shouldn’t be any big surprises for who starts in net for either team. For St. Louis, that means Jordan Binnington. The former Stanley Cup champ is 16-14-8 with a 2.68 GAA, and .910 save percentage.
As for L.A., Cal Petersen has overtaken Jonathan Quick as the mainstay in net. Petersen is 9-17-4 this season, carrying a 2.82 GAA and .914 save percentage.
This is a tough game to peg, with both teams in a position with nothing significant to play for. If one team did have more on the line, it would be the Blues, who, despite clinching their seed in the playoffs, want to make sure they’re playing well before their first-round series begins.
I expect a lower-scoring game in Los Angeles on Monday, with the edge going to the team with deeper scoring options and a more reliable goaltender. At decent value, I’m picking the Blues to right the ship and win this one.
Pick: Blues -144
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