Kings load up for stretch run
The NHL trade deadline doesn’t pass until later in the week. Los Angeles, though, launched a major pre-emptive strike over the weekend.
General manager Dean Lombardi acquired goaltender Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay in exchange for Peter Budaj, defensive prospect Erik Cernak and a couple of draft picks. It remains to be seen whether Bishop receives the start when the Kings visit Minnesota tonight. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Wild odds of -135 to emerge victorious. Darryl Sutter’s squad, on the other hand, enters Xcel Energy Center as a +115 underdog.
LA’s big transaction comes across as slightly curious in light of No. 1 netminder Jonathan Quick’s return from a long-term injury on Saturday. Now, though, Sutter boasts a pair of elite options – with Stanley Cup finals experience – between the pipes. Given the meager offense being generated at Staples Center, the Kings need every bit of help possible just to qualify for the postseason. With 21 contests remaining on the schedule, they trail St. Louis by three points for the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot.
Central Division-leading Minnesota feels much more secure at present. Devan Dubynk & Co. absolutely dominate at home, to the tune of a 21-8-1 mark. Most recently, though, the Wild suffered a 5-3 setback to Chicago.
Bruce Boudreau’s group will be suiting up for the first time in nearly a week, so Los Angeles needs to get off to a quick start. We anticipate as much, with the visiting crew trying to make up that aforementioned deficit in the standings.
MONDAY NHL FREE PICK: KINGS +1.5