Floundering Five (Teams To Bet Against): Kings Living In The Past

Jimmy Murphy

Friday, November 30, 2018 3:08 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 3:08 PM UTC

It's easy to recommend winners in the NHL. But sometimes, it's also just as important to know which teams to bet against. Welcome to Murph's first edition of the 'Floundering Five.'

Last week we gave you our second "Five Alive" poll, listing the five best value teams in the NHL at that point and this week we’re starting a new five-team poll called The "Floundering Five"’that lists the five worst teams to bet on right now at SBR's top-rated sportsbooks. Going forward, we will alternate each list weekly. So without further ado, here’s five teams you should not be betting on at this point in the 2018-19 NHL season:

1. Los Angeles Kings

Can someone please make it crystal clear to Kings general manager Rob Blake that it isn’t 2011-15 anymore? Blake could even be accused of building his team as if it was the late-nineties when he was a stud defenseman for the Kings and then the Avalanche, winning a Stanley Cup with the latter in 2001. But alas, this is 2018 and the NHL can be described in one simple word: SPEED! The Kings have no speed and that’s why they’ve been the worst team in the NHL thus far. Blake decided to put all his money in Ilya Kovalchuk (3 years, $6.25 million AAV), a player that would’ve excelled in Blake’s heyday as a player and did excel for ten years, from 2002-2012, when the game was much slower and a guy his age now, actually had a chance to keep up. Of course, Blake made John Stevens the sacrificial lamb for his mistakes by firing him and replacing him with Willie Desjardins earlier this month and that hasn’t changed a thing. Combine Blake’s mismanagement with a goal crease that has been ravaged with injuries, most notably to his starter, Jonathan Quick, and the Kings have been the worst team to put action on, that is unless you’re betting against them!

2. Philadelphia Flyers

Ironically, the Flyers just fired Ron Hextall, whom Blake replaced as Kings Assistant GM back in 2013 when Hextall took the same job with the Flyers before eventually becoming their GM the following year. In his 4.5 seasons as GM in Philly, Hextall replenished the Flyers organizational depth chart with blue-chip prospects, including stud goalie prospect Carter Hart. Imagine that? A Flyers team could have a high-end young goalie soon? Well it wasn’t soon enough as Hextall failed to find the right stop-gap goalie until Hart arrives and as they always seem to be, the Flyers have been a goalie graveyard this season, using five goalies through the first two months and ending up in the Eastern Conference basement. In this scribe’s humble opinion, the Flyers should’ve had more patience with Hextall because much like the Kings, they’re stuck in that purgatory where they think they’re already back to contending but are far from it. The future is bright in Philly, but don’t get bullied into betting them at this point.

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Was thinking, if Ron Hextall, who actually filled his organization with young players perfect for today's NHL is out of a job after 4.5 years, Rob Blake can't last that long in LA building a team better suited for 4 yrs ago or even when he played right? #GoKingsGo #LetsGoFlyers

— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) November 30, 2018
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3. St. Louis Blues

Goaltending seems to be the common thread in this poll and while the Blues still need Jake Allen to realize his potential, their main issue, like the Kings, is mismanagement and misreading today’s NHL. This Blues team is like one of those really slow blues tunes that puts you to sleep and firing head coach Mike Yeo was not the alarm clock they needed. Yes, GM Doug Armstrong did well in acquiring center Ryan O’Reilly but he failed to recognize his main issue and that’s a defense that cannot transition out of their zone fast enough and create offense. People can blame Allen all they want but things won’t change until Armstrong either fixes his blue line or gets replaced by a GM that will. Stay away from this team because it appears the NHL oddsmakers still see them as some kind of contender, when all they really are is pretenders.

4. Edmonton Oilers

Ironically, Oilers captain and superstar Connor McDavid is the reason to stay away from betting the Oilers at this point. Yes, that sounds crazy but McDavid is the sole reason the Oilers still come in as heavy favorites in some games despite the fact they’re one of, if not the most underachieving teams to this point. A shoddy defense and yes, there it is again, crummy goaltending from Cam Talbot is not helping at all, and leaves one to wonder how only now former head coach Todd McLellan was fired and not also GM Peter Chiarelli. Chiarelli, in a last ditch effort to save his job, brought in the best turnaround coach Ken Hitchcock to hopefully save the season and his job. That could happen, but until this team starts covering on a consistent basis, stay far away!

5. New Jersey Devils

Only a year removed from making the playoffs for the first time since their trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, the Devils appear to be taking a step back in their mission to become a perennial playoff contender again. Luckily for them, they have some solid young players coming but that does nothing for you if you’re thinking of gambling on them now and unfortunately futures aren’t offered for what they could be two or three years down the line. Their starting goalie Cory Schneider is a mess and hadn’t won a game heading into Friday’s tilt at Washington; their transition game is a quagmire and their leaning too much on reigning Hart Trophy Taylor Hall because they didn’t build more of a supporting cast this past offseason. The only value the Devils have at this point is the over, because they allow so many goals. That almost kept them off this list, but they’re simply not good enough to let the over give them enough to depend on.

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