It’s a matchup between first and worst in Los Angeles Monday night, as the St. Louis Blues, who sit atop the NHL’s Western Conference, take on the Los Angeles Kings, who are tied for last in the West. The Blues are scorching hot, winning their last five games, while the Kings have dropped two in a row by a single goal.
Here is a preview for Monday night’s game, along with odds and a free pick.
By The Numbers
The Blues’ offense has come alive with four or more goals in four of their last five wins. St. Louis is up to 3.08 goals on the season, good for 14th in the league, while ranking 23rd in shots per game with 30.2. The Blues are also seventh in power-play percentage at 22.3 percent.
On defense, the defending Stanley Cup champs are allowing the fifth-fewest goals per game with 2.57. They are also 11th in shots allowed with 31.2, and carry an 84.1 percent penalty-kill rate, the fifth-best in hockey.
The Kings rank near the bottom of several statistics. They’re 28th in goals with 2.58 despite averaging the fifth-most shots per game. That’s due to their 7.7 shooting percentage and 12.7 power-play success rate, each of which is 30th in the NHL.
Defensively, Los Angeles is actually first in shots allowed, holding opponents to 28.2 shots per game. However, they’re still 21st in goals against with 3.13 and carry one of the five worst penalty kills in the sport at 74.6 percent.
Who To Watch
St. Louis has plenty of All-Star-caliber players that take the ice every night. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and center Ryan O’Reilly are a couple of those guys who are the heartbeat of the club. However, the Blues wouldn’t be in first place without their additional scorers stepping up.
Guys like Jaden Schwartz, who had a goal and two assists on Saturday against the Sharks and is now up to 28 points on the season. Or the veteran David Perron, who had a hat trick last week against the Avalanche and leads the team with 35 points. Players like these show off St. Louis’ depth and make it incredibly tough to beat.
Even though the championship window is long over for the Kings, it doesn’t mean that all the players from those Cup teams are long gone. Los Angeles still ices veterans like Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter, each of whom still have some fuel left in the tank. Kopitar and Doughty, in particular, are having good seasons, with 32 and 24 points, respectively.
Los Angeles also has plenty of youth to skate alongside that group. Adrian Kempe is going through his best stretch all year, scoring goals in three straight games, while defenseman Matt Roy has three points in his last four games.
Two Cup winners will likely draw the starts Monday night. For the Blues, expect Jordan Binnington to man the net. Binnington is 16-6-4 with a 2.44 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Los Angeles will likely counter with Jonathan Quick. The longtime Kings goalie is 10-13-2 with a 3.01 GAA and a .895 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
The Blues are favored Monday night on the road, listed at -135. St. Louis is clearly the better team, but anything can happen in hockey on a nightly basis. So while I give the Kings a chance Monday night due to their strong shot suppression, I think the Blues will only need a couple of goals to get past a team that struggles on offense. So give me the Blues -135 to win their sixth game in a row.