Winnipeg Jets (20-21-2-1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (21-17-1-3)
NHL: Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 10:00pm EST
Line: Los Angeles -180/Winnipeg +160
The Los Angeles Kings will host the Winnipeg Jets in a Western Conference matchup Saturday night from the Staples Center. The Jets lost 7-4 to the Canadiens on Wednesday night and take on the Coyotes Friday night, and the Kings beat the Blues by a 5-1 score on Thursday night. The Jets beat the Kings 3-2 in a shootout in November.
Jets Fortunate to be in Playoff Hunt
The Winnipeg Jets have to feel fortunate they are only three points back of the L.A. Kings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference heading into Friday’s action. The Jets sit one game below .500 but a small winning streak could see them in a playoff position. They have had no trouble scoring goals this season led by rookie sniper Patrick Laine who has already tallied 21 goals. Laine suffered a concussion against the Sabres last week and is out indefinitely, which is a big hit to the Jets offense. Mark Scheifele continued his strong play Wednesday night by scoring another two goals and now has four goals over his last five games. The 23-year old center leads the Jets in scoring with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) on the season. Winnipeg is now scoring an average of 2.7 goals per game, ranking them 14th in the NHL.
The Jets have been shaky defensively and between the pipes this season. Connor Hellebuyck, who owns a 2.73 GAA, was pulled after allowing three goals on seven shots against Montreal on Wednesday night. Michael Hutchinson has also struggled this season, posting a weak 3.30 GAA. Winnipeg is now allowing an average of 3.0 goals per game, placing them down at 26th overall.
Kings Offense Explodes in Win over Blues
The Los Angeles Kings exploded for five goals over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, scoring five goals for the first time since November. Tanner Pearson led the way with a two goal effort in the win. Pearson is hot right now, collecting five goals with two assists over his last five games, and now has 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) on the season. Jeff Carter also continued his strong play in the victory, notching two assists, and now has nine points over his last six games. The 32-year old center leads the Kings in points, and is on pace for 78 points after notching 62 points last season. The Kings are currently holding on to the last playoff spot in the Western Conference but only hold a one-point cushion. They are now scoring an average of 2.5 goals per game, ranking them 21st overall.
The Kings will likely give the start to Peter Budaj in goal in this contest. Buda stopped 21 of 22 shots in the win over the Blues on Wednesday night, and has been steady for most of the season. The 34-year old goaltender now owns a solid 19-11-3 record to go along with a 2.10 GAA and a .917 save percentage. L.A. is now allowing an average of 2.5 goals per game, good for seventh in the NHL.
The Winnipeg Jets are:
- 1-5 in their last 6 Saturday games.
- 1-4 in their last 5 games when playing their fourth game in six days.
- over is 3-0-1 in their last 4 games in L.A.
The Los Angeles Kings are:
- 6-0 in their last 6 Saturday games.
- 4-1 in their last 5 games against the Western Conference.
- 43-19 in their last 62 home games against a team with a road winning percentage below .400.
I like the Kings and the over in this contest. The Kings have heated up offensively, scoring four or more goals in three straight games so they should find the back of the net against the Jets weak defense and goaltending. The Jets continue to have many rough nights in the goals against column, and I can’t trust them on the road against the Kings who have only lost seven home games all season. I like the over as the Kings have been hot on offense, and the Jets also feature a strong scoring attack that usually has no problem scoring goals.