Potential Wild Cards Meet as Avs, Kings Gear for Physical Tilt

Monday, April 2, 2018 2:51 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 2, 2018 2:51 PM UTC

The "under" is 7-1-4 in  Colorado's past 12 visits to Los Angeles, and another low-scoring game is expected as Andrew Hammond likely starts in goal for the Avalanche.

Monday NHL: Avalanche vs. KingsFree NHL Pick: Under 5.5, -120Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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It’s coming down to the wire for the Colorado Avalanche (42-28-9, 93 points, +21 goal differential), who lost a critical game in Anaheim on Sunday night. Colorado still owns a one-point lead over St. Louis for the last wild-card spot in the West, although the Blues have a game in hand. Colorado is 15-17-7 on the road and 5-4-1 in their last 10.

The Los Angeles Kings (43-28-8, 94, +35) are the Avalanche's wild-card dance partner for the moment, but with three games remaining the Kings can reclaim at least the third spot in the Pacific Division. The Kings are 21-14-3 at home and 5-2-3 in their last 10.

The probable starting goaltenders in this matchup are Colorado's Andrew Hammond (0-1-0, .939, 2.06) and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick (31-27-3, .923, 2.37). The puck drops at Staples Center at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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Anze Kopitar has had himself a Hart-worthy season.
🌟 https://t.co/fpxihgfw7F pic.twitter.com/mc9AHDP8K6

— LA Kings (@LAKings) March 30, 2018

The Kings spanked the Avalanche 7-1 in the last meeting, March 22 in Denver. Anze Kopitar scored four times, including a power-play goal to give the Kings a two-goal advantage late in the first period that proved to be the backbreaker. Los Angeles scored at least two goals in every period, chasing Semyon Varlamov in the second after he allowed five goals on just 20 shots. Colorado was pummeled as a -115 dog with the game flying "over" the 5.5 total.

Like Sunday night, the bookmakers expect the Avalanche to get beat again as they opened on the NHL odds board as -205 underdogs. It was predictable that the public has pushed this number down in every spot including -185 at Bookmaker. It’s a valuable game for Colorado, so getting +180 with a team that is desperate to get a win is the only play here.

The public clearly thinks the game will go "under" the total after a strange opening number of 5.5, 105 each way was the opener. This game had to be at least -120 (under) but once again we deal with bookmakers that don’t really watch the sport. The people who bet on hockey do and quickly made the adjustment for them with the line -125 (under) at most books. The books were most likely swayed by Hammond starting in goal for the Avalanche.

Hammond has made only one start this season but he was sensational against Philadelphia, making 31 saves in the 2-1 loss. Don’t forget, Hammond was just outside of the Vezina Trophy discussion with Ottawa in 2014-15 when he ended his season 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage. He owns a 27-15-6 career record with a .923 save percentage in 56 games (49 starts). He has certainly had his ups and downs, but with tonight's NHL picks I’m confident that a healthy Hammond will do his part to keep this game "under" the total.

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