Read our 2013-14 Stanley Cup Future Odds Update for an early edge in this season's games!
The Los Angeles Kings fell short in their bid to repeat as Stanley Cup champions last season. However, making it to the Western Conference finals and losing to the eventual champs from Chicago is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Wild have won six of the last 10 meetings between the two, including three of the last five in Minnesota. Five of the last 10 meetings have surprisingly gone over the posted total with one push (it is surprisingly because both have been strong defensively in recent years) and five of those games have also been decided by a single goal.
The Los Angeles Kings can win because…
As long as Jonathan Quick is between the pipes, the Kings always have a chance to win. Quick is one of the top two or three goalies in the NHL and he would love to have a strong first half to the season. That would make him the favorite to start for the United States at the Olympics instead of backing up Buffalo’s Ryan Miller like he did in Vancouver four years ago. He also has a very strong core on the blue line in front of him led by Drew Doughty and if they can get Willie Mitchell back and healthy after missing all of last year with a knee injury, the Kings could be even better at that end of the ice.
The issue is up front, where the Kings are talented but they can struggle to score goals at times. The Kings have the skill and grit, though, and going up against a soft Minnesota team should allow them to start their season on the right foot.
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The Minnesota Wild can win because…
They are at home where they finished 14-8-2 last season. More importantly, the Kings are on the road where they were 8-16.
Like the Kings, the Wild depend heavily on their goalie and while Niklas Bäckström doesn’t get the publicity that Quick does, he is very good. When he went down with an injury as the Wild got to the postseason, they stumbled (and like the Kings, they also lost to the Blackhawks, albeit in the first round). Bäckström looks to be healthy, which is excellent for Minnesota’s chances if they’re going to challenge in the West.
That will happen if they can get goals – especially out of Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley. The former doesn’t have a long-term contract yet and doesn’t want to negotiate during the season, which means he is taking this as an audition for the Wild and the rest of the league. As for Heatley, he says he’s recovered from shoulder surgery and wants to score 30 goals this season. Captain Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise are also there while Ryan Suter adds points from the blue line. However, Pominville and Heatley will be essential to Minnesota’s success.
Outlook & Pick
It’s hard to know what we’ll get from the Wild. They’re a soft team but they could have a very good reason to be fired up on Thursday: it’s a bit of a revenge game. Sports betting fans might recall that Kings captain Dustin Brown elbowed Jason Pominville late last season and forced him to miss two regular season games and three playoff games. The Wild could be looking to send a message.
That being the case, I’ll take a shot with them with my NHL betting picks. They want to climb the ladder in the West and if they can’t win games like this, then they’re nothing but a fringe playoff team that will probably get head coach Mike Yeo fired. However, I think this is a spot where they are worth a shot on the NHL odds.
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