Kings vs Canadiens – NHL Pick for October 26th
After a quiet two-game slate on Wednesday night, the NHL returns with a jam-packed Thursday schedule. There’s an incredible 11 games on tap which means plenty of opportunities to make that bank account a little larger. The league is starting to settle down and we’re beginning to see the cream rise to the top. There’s still plenty left to figure out, like whether or not the Rangers and Canadiens are going to turn it around, if the Devils are for real and if Las Vegas can keep up their Cinderella story.
These questions will be answered soon enough, but in the meantime, it’s important to continue to take advantage of weak betting lines for some of these underperforming teams. One of these teams is in our feature game on Thursday night as the Montreal Canadiens desperately try to turn their season around at home against the LA Kings.
- Los Angeles Kings (+110) at Montreal Canadiens (-121)
The Canadiens were always going to have some questions up front, but no one expected them to start off the season like this after a strong campaign last year. They’re just 2-6-1 to start the year and sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference. There is some good news for the Habs as they recorded just their second win of the season against the Panthers in their last outing, but they’ll need to string together a few wins in a row if they want to become relevant again in the standings.
Standing in their way are the LA Kings who came flying out of the gate to the tune of a 7-1-1 record after losing their first game in regulation to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their last matchup. LA has been a hallmark of success in the NHL for the last decade, but some complacency started to set in under head coach Darryl Sutter. Sutter was great for this organization but his defensive style was starting to wear thin with the players, and he was ultimately replaced by new coach John Stevens who has the team playing a much more aggressive style on the offensive end. Both these teams have been excellent over the last few years but are trending in very different directions to start the season. So who has the upper hand heading into Thursday night? Let’s find out!
The new-look offense of the LA Kings has been a thing of beauty to behold. They’re currently ranked 4th in the NHL with an average of 3.56 goals a game and fire the 6th most shots on net per contest. After an incredibly disappointing season for Anze Kopitar last year the Kings’ captain seems to be turning things around in a hurry to start this campaign. He has six goals and five assists for 11 total points through nine games and is tied for the team lead with Dustin Brown. Kopitar has always been an incredibly versatile forward and his +11 rating is proof of his ability to help on the backcheck.
The Kings are without Jeff Carter for the foreseeable future as he deals with a torn tendon after a freak accident saw him cut his leg on an opponent’s skate. The timetable for his recovery has been set at 6-8 weeks so the Kings will need to find a way to consistently generate offense without their top point getter from last season. One of those ways may come in the form of Adrian Kempe. The 21-year-old has already surpassed his goal total from last season with five tallies on the year and has been a force all over the ice. If the Canadiens forget about him on Thursday night he may prove the difference maker for this surging LA team.
While the offense hums along nicely in LA the same can’t be said in Montreal. Sure the Habs scored five goals against a middling Panthers team, but prior to that, they had scored more than two goals just twice on the season. Their offense simply lacks the star names or firepower of most other NHL teams and their defense hasn’t been doing enough for them to win games.
Jonathan Drouin was a nice pickup for the Habs and while his seven points lead the team so far that’s hardly an impressive number. What is impressive is his work on the powerplay as he scored almost half his points with the extra-man attacker last season in Tampa. He recorded two assists on the power play against Florida and seems to be trending in the right direction. If Montreal can continue to play smart hockey and draw penalties Drouin will continue to be an offensive threat.
Montreal is averaging just 2.00 goals a game to rank 30th in the league and that’s including their five-goal outburst against the Panthers. Their offense needs to step up in a major way if they’re’ going to get out of their slump to start the season.
Having a bad offense is one thing, but when you couple it with a bad defense you get a record like the Canadiens have to start the season. Montreal is allowing an average of 3.78 goals a game to rank 29th in the league despite their defense supposedly being one of their strong suits entering the season. While a lot of the onus falls on Shea Weber and Victor Mete their forwards have done little to help out on the backcheck as well. Montreal will need to be way more careful with the puck against the new aggressive attack of the Kings on Thursday night.
Speaking of those Kings, their defense has been excellent this season. LA is allowing an average of just 2.11 goals a game to rank first in the NHL in that department while also having the second best penalty kill in all of hockey. Their defense is led by Drew Doughty who has been up to his usual tricks of defensive responsibility and offensive spark. Add in Jake Muzzin, Derek Forbort and Alec Martinez and the Kings have a formidable top four.
The Kings’ biggest strength on defense may come from their forwards who are all hellbent on backchecking to help out the team. That energy and effort can win you hockey games any night and the Kings have shown that with seven wins already on the young season.
This should be a matchup of two of the best goalies in the NHL, but one hasn’t been holding up his end of the bargain this season. Carey Price is widely considered the best goalie in the league, but he hasn’t looked like it to start the season. He’s carrying a brutal 3.54 goals against average with a .890 save percentage into this contest and while the defense has been bad in front of him, he has also admitted that he needs to improve. He was much better against the Panthers, allowing just one goal so hopefully, for the Habs, he’s beginning to trend in the right direction.
Opposite him is the unorthodox Jonathan Quick whose aggressive style has yielded some impressive results to start the season. He owns a sparkling 2.15 goals against average with a .934 save percentage and a record of 5-1-1. The Canadiens will need to generate traffic in front if they hope to get some pucks by the LA netminder.
Carey Price against Anze Kopitar. Kopitar is off to a hot start this season and will try and continue his play against the struggling Price. If Price ever needed a game to get his confidence back this is it. He’ll try and feed off the energy of the home crowd and shut down the high-flying Kopitar.
Call us crazy but the Habs are getting decent odds at home and seem to be trending in the right direction after their big win against Florida. Price has yet to steal a game for this club and we feel like this one could be hit. Take the Canadiens on the moneyline.