Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#69 Minnesota Wild -145 vs.
#70 Los Angeles Kings 5.5
Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 10:05pm EST
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Written by Valdis Pans

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Finding themselves against each other in the same West Division for the 2020-21 campaign, the Los Angeles Kings and the Minnesota Wild will lock horns again, 10 months after their last meeting ended with a 7-3 home victory for the team from the City of Angels.

Talbot Skates On The Wild Side

For the second year in a row, the Minnesota Wild failed to make the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after being eliminated in four games (1-3) during the qualifiers by the Vancouver Canucks last season. Prior to that, the Wild ended the regular campaign with eight victories in its last 11 outings (8-3-0), ultimately ending up 6th in the Central Division and 10th in the Western Conference (35-27-7). Kevin Fiala led the team with 54 regular-season points (23 goals, 31 assists), adding four more points during the postseason (3 goals, 1 helper). Zach Parise (46 points), meanwhile, netted the most strikes prior to the coronavirus outbreak (25).

With Devan Dubnyk traded to the San Jose Sharks, goalie Cam Talbot will take over the No. 1 duties for Minnesota after penning a three-year, $11 million deal with the Wild. He was 12-10-1 for the Calgary Flames last year with a 2.63 GAA, a .919 save percentage and two shutouts, and has posted a 7-9-0 past record against the Los Angeles Kings with a 2.81 GAA, a .910 save percentage and one shutout. The Wild were scoring the 12th highest number of goals per game in 2019-20 (3.16), while conceding the 8th highest amount in their defensive zone (3.14). The team was 10th in power play (21.3%) and 25th in penalty kill (77.2%).

Will Kings Bounce Back Quick?

The Los Angeles Kings failed to make the postseason for the second year running last term and have now gone without playoff hockey for three of their past four seasons. The team didn’t even make the qualifiers, finishing 7th in the Pacific Division and 2nd from the bottom in the Western Conference (29-35-6), despite ending the regular campaign with a seven-game winning streak, beating the likes of the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche along the way. Anze Kopitar led the team with 21 goals and 62 points.

Coming into his 14th NHL season, goalie Jonathan Quick will be hoping to improve on his numbers from last season, which saw the netminder post a 16-22-4 total with a 2.79 GAA, a .904 save percentage and one shutout. Quick has gone 14-8-5 against the Minnesota Wild historically with a 2.57 GAA and a .900 save percentage. The Kings were netting the 2nd lowest quantity of goals per game last year (2.53), while giving up the 14th lowest amount on the defensive end (2.99). The team was 26th in power play (17.1%) and 23rd in penalty kill (77.4%).

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The Kings finished last season with seven straight victories, including a 7-3 beat-down of Minnesota in March, and will be hoping to start the new campaign on the same wavelength. New additions of Andreas Athanasiou to the second line and Olli Maatta on the blue line have definitely improved the team’s overall quality. Still, three players, who missed practice on Monday (unfit to play), are still out of the squad, while Martin Frk and Alex Turcotte have lower-body injuries. These absences, of course, could pave the way for Quinton Byfield, Kings’ 2nd overall pick in 2020 Draft, to make his NHL debut. They are also giving the advantage to the Wild, who have been lethal on the road lately, winning eight of their past 10 travels. Minnesota has also beaten L.A. on four of the past six occasions and will be entering the new season with some quality additions to its own lineup, i.e., Nick Bonino and Marcus Johansson.

Prediction: Minnesota Wild (-120)

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Even though the last matchup between Los Angeles and Minnesota produced a staggering amount of 10 goals (a 7-3 victory for the Kings last year), this series has not excelled in scoring otherwise, with four of the last six meetings all going below the five-snipe mark, averaging just 4.25 markers per fixture. Six of the past eight domestic contests of L.A. have also produced just a minimal amount of goals, with an average of just 2.83 strikes buried per outing, while half of the previous eight matchups of the Wild have all cruised under the total.

Prediction: Under 5.5
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Written By Valdis Pans , "Valdis Pans"

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