A Western Conference battle is brewing Friday night between the Los Angeles Kings and the Calgary Flames. Even this early in the season, divisional games count for something, and even though this game is a matchup between the first and last place teams in the Pacific Division, there is still some value to find for bettors.
Los Angeles will be playing the second half of a back-to-back set of games, having lost to the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Thursday night. This Alberta road swing is something all teams face, and one of Edmonton or Calgary always gets a team on the tail end of the two games in 27 hours stretch.
Why the Kings Could Win
Typically when a team is coming into the second half of a back-to-back scenario, their opponent has the chance to take their foot off the gas a bit. This could very well happen tonight in Calgary, where the Flames young core may not have the discipline to come out firing against a team that should be tired. Putting that aside for a second, let’s look at the Kings chances of winning.
First off, they will likely be going with backup Calvin Peterson in nets tonight after letting Jonathan Quick play in last night’s game. Quick looked decent in his return from the IR, but there is no chance the Kings will push him with back-to-back starts. Petersen must feel lucky to be in the league right now as he was 4th on the team’s depth chart to start the season. He has been excellent given the team in front of him, going 4-3 with a .927 Save Percentage this season.
The Los Angeles offense is starting to heat up, which is good because they had been horribly underperforming to date. While the scoring from players like veteran Dustin Brown is on the rise, the team could use a boost from stars like Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Drew Doughty. If any of these three catch fire tonight, then the Kings could pull off a victory.
Why the Flames Could Win
Calgary has been on a tear to start the season and currently lead their division with 30 points through 25 games. While this isn’t a runaway lead, it is a great start from a team that has found themselves to be very inconsistent over the last couple of seasons. Scoring does not seem to be an issue for this team, as their forward lines are stacked with stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm.
Goaltending has been the Achilles heel of this team for years, and despite finding lightning in a bottle with rookie David Rittich (8-3-1 this season), the Flames are turning back to incumbent starter Mike Smith for Friday’s game against Los Angeles. If the team jumps out to an early lead, you can expect the Flames to try to play lockdown defense for the rest of the game.
The Bets You Should Make on this Game
As you can see from the lines above, you are getting a goal and a half if you choose the Kings in this game. Now, that always seems to be an interesting number to take in hockey, but when you factor in that teams are pulling their goalies earlier and earlier these days, there are more empty-net goals at the ends of the games that are screwing with the lines. I think that will be the case in this game and my prediction is
Los Angeles 2
So, for betting purposes, I am taking Calgary -1.5 and Over 5.5 goals.
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