NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blues vs Kings (Saturday, November 18)
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Blues vs. Kings Odds
Both the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues will be looking to get back on the winning track when they face off in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The Kings sit third in the Pacific Division, but have lost two of three since returning home from an impressive four-game road trip. Meanwhile, the Blues saw a three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday in San Jose. Here's a look at the odds and a Blues vs. Kings prediction.
The Blues opened their road trip with a clunker, dropping a 5-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. They put 45 shots on Kaapo Kahkonen, who picked up his first win of the year, but the game was all-but-over after Joel Hofer allowed four goals on 21 shots in the first 23:25 of action. On a scheduled night off, Jordan Binnington gave up one goal on 14 shots in 36:35 of clean-up duty.
The Blues are on a back-to-back this weekend with less than 24 hours between games as they're set to face Anaheim on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. The goalies will likely split those assignments, so expect to see Blues coach Craig Berube go back to his ace against the Kings. Binnington has been excellent this year with a .930 save percentage and 10.2 goals saved above expected.
Before the blowout in the Bay Area, St. Louis had been on a nice roll with wins in five of six games. But looking at the numbers, the Blues aren't really excelling anywhere except when Binnington's in net. Other than their 8-2 blowout win over Colorado last Saturday, they aren't scoring a ton. Robert Thomas is up to 17 points, but Brayden Schenn and Pavel Buchnevich are the only other players in double digits, with 10 points each. The Blues' 5-on-5 possession numbers aren't great as they rank 30th, ahead of only San Jose and Chicago, with an expected goals share of 44.10%.
The power play has delivered only three goals all year — and two of those came against the Avalanche last week. And while the penalty kill has been a perfect 6-for-6 over the past three games, it's still clicking at at efficiency rate of just 76.9% for the year.
The good news for the Blues: they're healthy.
After sweeping a four-game road trip to start off this month, the Kings have been a little lackluster. They eked out a 2-1 win over Florida on Thursday to climb to 9-3-3 after losing to Pittsburgh (4-3 in overtime) and Philadelphia (4-2).
There was concern for Pierre-Luc Dubois after he left Thursday's game following a hard collision with the goalpost, but reports from practice on Friday indicate that his testing came back "better than expected." He's still listed as day-to-day, though — so while the Kings may have dodged a bullet, there's no guarantee Dubois will be in the lineup Saturday.
Other than that, L.A.'s only other significant injury issue is Viktor Arvidsson's long-term absence.
When looking for the secrets to the Kings' success this season, it's easy to see in the numbers. True to their identity, they have the best expected goals share in the league (56.93%). Their penalty killing is excellent (88.5%), they give up a stingy 27.9 shots per game and they're third in scoring with 3.87 goals per game.
The question mark coming into the season was their goaltending, but Cam Talbot has stepped up in a big way. Carrying a heavy workload that has seen him play the sixth-most minutes to date, he has put together an 8-3-1 record with a .927 save percentage and 6.7 goals saved above expected.
The Kings had four days off before they hosted Florida on Thursday, so Talbot should have plenty of gas in the tank to start again Saturday.
Blues vs. Kings
Betting Pick & Prediction
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Only four points separate the Kings from the Blues in the standings, but the difference in the fundamentals between these teams is enormous.
Building off what has been accomplished over the past couple of seasons, Los Angeles is a well-structured team that plays the right way and is good at just about everything. Conversely, St. Louis' winning record this season appears to be mostly a function of goaltending.
The Blues should play better after losing to the Sharks, but the well-rested Kings should have no trouble taking care of business on home ice.
A puck line bet at plus money offers good value.