Two Pacific Division foes will face off Wednesday night in Hollywood, as the Calgary Flames (29-22-6) visit the Los Angeles Kings (19-33-5). This is the fourth time these clubs have met this year, with Los Angeles taking the first two and Calgary getting some revenge in the last one.
Here is a preview for Wednesday night’s matchup, along with odds and a free pick.
By The Numbers
The Flames have recovered nicely from their three-game losing streak, winning back-to-back road games against division foes Vancouver and San Jose to move into a tie for third place in the Pacific. So far this season, Calgary is 22nd in goals with 2.72 on a solid 31.5 shots per game.
The Flames’ shooting percentage of 8.6 is only 26th in the NHL, but their power play is good, ranking 11th with a 21.3 percent conversion rate.
Defensively, Calgary ranks 12th with 3.02 goals allowed, giving up 32.6 shots per game as well. The Flames’ penalty kill has been a solid 13th with an 81.1 percent success rate, a good sign considering the 9.3 minutes the Flames spend in the penalty box a night is the 10th-most in the league.
The last-place Kings are as desperate for a win as anyone right now, dropping five games in a row and nine out of their last 10. Their last regulation win came back on Jan. 9. All the losing by Los Angeles has something to do with its 2.4 goals per game, the second-lowest mark in hockey.
The Kings’ high tally of 34 shots a night is marred by a league-low 7.1 shooting percentage, and their power play ranks just 24th at 16.8 percent.
On defense, despite allowing the second-fewest shots per game at 29.1, Los Angeles is still 23rd in goals allowed with 3.18. The Kings do a good job of staying out of the penalty box with just 6.9 minutes of time served a night, but their penalty kill ranks a lowly 28th at 74.8 percent.
Who To Watch
When you think of the Flames, you often think of their stars, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. And while each is having a solid season, it’s Calgary’s depth that has been getting it done lately.
After a slow start, Milan Lucic has put up back-to-back multi-point efforts, scoring twice and dishing out three assists total. Veteran center Mikael Backlund has also been solid lately, racking up a goal and four assists during his current three-game point streak.
Of course, there’s also Matthew Tkachuk, a first-time All-Star last month, who has scored in back-to-back games to give him 19 goals on the season.
The Kings are hoping for their stars, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, to get back on track after each of them has been held without a point for three straight games. During Los Angeles’ current losing streak, it has also gotten its scoring from several depth options.
New acquisition Trevor Moore scored a goal on Sunday in just his second game as a King, while recent call-up Blake Lizotte has assists in two of the last three games for Los Angeles.
Among the slightly-bigger names, keep an eye on Alex Iafallo, who has five goals in the last two weeks to help bring him to 15 total, third on the team.
The Flames are expected to go with their main man David Rittich in goal. Rittich is 22-14-5 with a 2.84 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
Meanwhile, the Kings will likely turn to Jonathan Quick to once again man the net. Quick is 11-22-3 with a 3.05 GAA and a .895 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
The Flames are considered the favorite Wednesday night, listed by oddsmakers at -135. Calgary has been a decent road team at 16-12-2, while the Kings are 11-12-1 at home.
Even though Calgary is the better team, it doesn’t dominate any particular area. The main thing would be the Flames’ power play against Los Angeles’ penalty kill, although the Kings don’t take many penalties. I think the Kings will get a lot of shots on Rittich and hope that maybe some of them will get by while hoping Quick can show signs of his true self.
I also think Kopitar and Doughty, along with some other vets, are ready to break out of their slump against a Calgary team missing some key defensemen. In an upset, give me the Kings +115.
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