NHL Betting Odds & Pick for Kings vs. Sharks: Goaltender Edge Favors Los Angeles (March 24)

NHL Betting Odds & Pick for Kings vs. Sharks: Goaltender Edge Favors Los Angeles (March 24) article feature image
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Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Cal Petersen

  • The Sharks and Kings had low expectations entering the year, and the standings reflect it.
  • San Jose may have more overall talent, but it trails Los Angeles in one department.
  • Pete Truszkowski explains why the goaltender will be the difference tonight.

Kings vs. Sharks Odds

Kings Odds -108
Sharks Odds -108
Over/Under 5.5
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Tuesday night and via DraftKings.

Both the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings entered this season with low expectations and a rebuild in progress after a decade of sustained success. Neither team looks likely to make the playoffs this season, but both teams have played competitive hockey.

With the two teams having similar records and being in a similar position in the standings, is there one factor that will put one of these teams over the other on Wednesday night?

Los Angeles Kings

Obviously, the days of the mini-dynasty from last decade are gone for the Los Angeles Kings. However, through 31 games, the Kings surprisingly find themselves with a winning record. But Los Angeles is still a long way away from where they were back when they were winning Stanley Cups.

The Kings rank 29th in expected goal rate while ranking 28th in high danger chance percentage. They are below league average in shot attempt share. Both sides of the ice are to blame, as Los Angeles finds itself bottom 10 in expected goals scored per hour as well as expected goals against per 60 minutes.

Goaltender Cal Peterson has been the main reason why Los Angeles has won as many games as it has this year; he’s taken over for Jonathan Quick as the main man in goal for the Kings. Peterson ranks fourth in the league with a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) mark of +7.6.

The trio of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty looked like they might have been past their prime the past few seasons, but so far this year they’ve turned back the clock. Kopitar is producing better than a point-per-game while Brown is scoring at a 40 goal pace during a normal season. Doughty has been a force offensively from the back-end.

Los Angeles has some nice young pieces such as Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe and Gabe Vilardi. It’s been a good mixture of new and old for the Kings and it seems to have helped both groups contribute to begin the year.

San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks enter this game with a record of 12-14-4 through the first 30 games of the season. The Sharks have been competitive, but there are obvious flaws with the team that limit them from seriously competing in the West division.

Analytically, the Sharks have been painfully mediocre. They rank 17th in expected goal rate and 23rd in shot attempt share. San Jose plays high event hockey, as they rank top 10 in both expected goals scored and expected goals against per hour.

High event hockey probably isn’t the best way for the Sharks to play. In order to succeed with that brand of hockey, you often need to rely on your goalie to outperform the guy on the other side of the ice. Devan Dubnyk and Martin Jones aren’t outperforming many goalies in the league as the duo has combined for a GSAx mark of -15.2. Therefore, if San Jose plans on trading chances most nights, wins won’t be easy to come by.

The team has some quality high-end talent like Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Brent Burns but the depth throughout the lineup is lacking. The bottom two lines don’t add much for coach Bob Boughner and that’s not a recipe for success.

Kings vs. Sharks Best Bet

I don’t think either of these teams are all that good, but there is one clear position where the Kings are better than the Sharks. That position also happens to be the most important position in the sport, even if it’s the hardest to predict.

If these teams had the same level of goaltending, I’d agree with the premise that this line should be a pick’em. However, that isn’t the case. San Jose has two of the worst goalies in the league while the Kings have one of the better goalies through the first half of this season in Peterson.

The Sharks might have slightly more high end talent and they might be slightly better at driving play, but the difference between the pipes is too much for me in this contest. This line says that these teams are about equal, and with the disparity in net, I can’t agree with that.

Pick: LA Kings -108

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