The Wild came into the season with tempered expectations, but head coach Bruce Boudreau has a reputation for getting the most out of his teams. While some were skeptical is the Wild could ever win with this Parise-Suter era, Minnesota is off to a fantastic start once again this year, going 8-4-2 through their first 14 games of the regular season.
Minnesota exceeding expectations early in 2018
Minnesota snapped a two-game winning streak on Tuesday, falling on the road at the Shark Tank 4-3 to the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks opened up a 2-0 lead before Zach Parise’s power play goal cut the deficit to one. Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba added goals early in the third period to tie the score at three, but it wasn’t enough, as Minnesota’s comeback effort fell short when Barclay Goodrow re-directed the game-winning goal past Devan Dubnyk midway through the final period. Dubnyk stopped just 18 of the 22 shots that he faced on the night to fall to 6-3-2 on the year. He sports a solid 2.25 GAA and a .930 save percentage so far this season and is expected to be back between the pipes for Minnesota on Thursday night against the Kings. Despite the loss, Minnesota is still 7-2-0 in their last nine games dating back to Oct 16.
— Sara’s Happy Paws Pet Sitting (@sarashappypaws) November 8, 2018
Dubnyk has already made one start against the Kings this season, stopping 23 of 24 shots to end with a .958 save percentage en route to securing the win. That performance was a stark contrast to his numbers versus the Kings last year, when he went 0-1-1 with a 3.88 GAA and an .860 save percentage.
Minnesota comes into Thursday’s matchup scoring 3.1 goals per game (15th in the NHL), while allowing just 2.8 per contest (11th in the NHL). They’ve converted 19.6 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage (18th in the NHL), while killing off 85.2 percent of their penalties so far this season (4th in the NHL).
Kings improving on seven-game home stand
Los Angeles put together its first win streak of the season on Tuesday night, as the Kings won their second consecutive game 4-1 at home against the Anaheim Ducks. Ilya Kovalchuk continued his recent tear, racking up a goal and two assists on the night to help the Kings open the tenure of new head coach Willie Desjardins with a win. Jack Campbell stopped 30 of the 31 shots that he faced on the night, while Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, and Tyler Toffoli all added goals to help Los Angeles improve to 3-1 on their current seven-game home stand.
BREAKING: Ilya Kovalchuk still has it 🤯 pic.twitter.com/FcHiyNMzux
— LA Kings (@LAKings) September 21, 2018
Campbell is expected to be back between the pipes for the Kings on Thursday. He comes in with a 5-5-0 overall record to go along with a respectable 2.50 GAA and a .918 save percentage so far this season. He started against Minnesota a few weeks ago, allowing two goals on 24 shots before being pulled in an eventual 4-1 defeat.
The Kings enter Thursday’s matchup ranked 30th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.3 per contest, while ranking 22nd in the league in goals against at 3.3 per game. While not many things have been going right for the Kings this year, one of the places they’ve excelled is on the penalty kill, where they have staved off 82.9 percent of their penalties so far this season, which ranks eighth in the NHL.
- Kings are 7-3 in their last 10 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Over is 4-0 in Wild last 4 overall.
- Over is 23-9-1 in Wild last 33 Thursday games.
- Wild are 7-2 in their last 9 overall.
- Wild are 9-3 in their last 12 vs. a team with a losing record.
- Wild are 26-11 in their last 37 Thursday games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The home team has won seven of the last eight meetings between these two teams and the Wild have one just one time in their last five trips to the Staples Center. Los Angeles has struggled this season, but they’ve shown signs of life during their current home stand. Minnesota, meanwhile, is in the midst of a seven-game road trip and this will be the second of three games in four days for the Wild. Look for the Kings to get their revenge with a victory at home in this spot on Thursday night.
Prediction: Pick: L.A. Kings
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have gone over the projected total in six of their last seven meetings and the Wild have gone over the total in each of their last four games heading into Thursday’s matchup. After a slow start to the season, the Kings’ offense has finally started to get on the board with some relative consistency. They’ve scored four goals in three of their last four games and are undefeated on the season when they score three goals or more. Look for this game to go over the projected total in L.A. on Thursday night.