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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Predators vs. Kings (Jan. 6)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Predators vs. Kings (Jan. 6) article feature image
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Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: The Predators celebrate their win over the Golden Knights.

  • The Predators are favored in Thursday night's matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.
  • However, Nashville has been rolling of late and perhaps isn't favored by enough.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.

Predators vs. Kings Odds

Predators Odds -130
Kings Odds +110
Over/Under 5.5
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

A 3-2 victory in Vegas over a shorthanded Knights team put an exclamation mark on a dominant 9-1-1 stretch of play for the Nashville Predators, lifting them atop the Central division.

Meanwhile, the Kings have managed two straight victories themselves, and are right in the thick of the Western wild-card race, sitting just two points back of the scuffling Edmonton Oilers.

Will Nashville be able to build on a strong 11-6-2 road record here?

Predators Have Been Dominant

In a year where many had the Predators pegged as a potential lottery candidate, they have instead seen a number of surprisingly strong performances and now hold an 85.2% chance of grabbing a postseason berth, according to our friends at MoneyPuck.

The team has been simply dominant of late with regards to both their actual results and expected results, and the play in front of one of the league’s very best netminders in Juuse Saros has been very sharp.

As we have traditionally seen from GM David Poile’s rosters, the Predators first and foremost dominates with their excellent blue-line, led by Captain Roman Josi, who has quietly been in utterly ridiculous form yet again this season.

Josi’s dominant play is supported by the still excellent Mattias Ekholm and two very underrated pieces in Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro, with the strong blue line being a huge causation for the Predators’ 1.87 xGA/60 over their last 11.

Offensively, the Predators have been led by resurgent seasons from Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, as well as true-to-form play from Filip Forsberg, with all those aforementioned names trending at or around a PPG.

Behind them lies a number of tough two-way forwards who have chipped in offensively, such as Tanner Jeannot, Colton Sissons and Yakov Trenin.

Nashville’s well-balanced play has led them to a +14 goal differential over their last 11, and although we can safely assuming this could be somewhat of a high water point, it seems safe to say this team has been far from simply just lucky, and that a return to the postseason is imminent.

If the Preds can continue to produce anywhere near their 15th-best 3.03 goals per game mark all season they will have an excellent chance to succeed considering the strength of their defensive play and Saros, and a 13th-best xGF/60 the last month suggests such a feat is plausible.

It is possible coach John Hynes rests his dominant starter in Saros here, but I would still imagine Saturday’s contest in Arizona would serve a more logical opportunity.

Saros has been dominant again this year, and makes up being a smaller goalie at just 5-foot- 11 with his excellent anticipation and arguably the league’s best movement.

Saros owns a +11.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .924 save % throughout 27 games played this season.

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Kings Struggle With Consistency

Coach Todd McLellan’s streaky young bunch will look to build on back-to-back home wins over Philly and Vancouver while working to find some consistency.

The team has controlled play at an effective rate of late, with a 51.21 xGF% over the last 10 contests, and could even see an uptick with No. 1 defenseman Drew Doughty settling back into the lineup.

The Kings still lack offensive talent with regard to playmaking and shooting abilities, and it’s far from surprising to see this group hold a -12.56 goals above expected rating.

Led by Phillip Danault, the Predators feature a number of excellent play-drivers, but they struggle in front of goal. They may stabilize that expected goals mark some, but I still think a below-expected mark is natural for the group, even if young talents such as Kupari and Kaliyev start to find better form.

I do not see a tremendous uptick from their 24th-best goals per game mark of 2.70 coming, and I think that ultimately will prevent this group from sneaking into the playoffs this season. But the future is promising nonetheless.

Predators vs. Kings Pick

The Predators’ 57.99 xGF% over their 8-1-1 stretch is a further comment about where this team’s game is at right now.

Their game looks very sharp, doing a great job of bending but not breaking in the defensive zone, knowing that Saros will make all of the should-be saves on the perimeter and semi-pressured shots against, and have done well generating at surprisingly strong rates at the other end.

Barring some notable upticks from some of the Kings’ young forwards, the Predators simply hold much more talent up front right now, and behind that could arguably still hold edges with regards to goaltending and defensive play.

Opening a little closer than I expected at -130 on DraftKings, I think we have some value backing the Preds in a spot that I just don’t have as close to the number. I would play Nashville down to -145.

Pick: Nashville Predators -130 (Play to -145)

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