Host team laboring to light the lamp
The Kings aren’t exactly making waves in the Pacific Division right now. Ready or not, though, they’re about to embark on a potentially season-defining stretch.
Tonight, Darryl Sutter’s club opens an eight-game road trip in Detroit. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Los Angeles odds of -125 to emerge victorious. The Red Wings, on the other hand, represent +105 underdogs.
Having dropped three of four, the Kings (14-12-2) currently sit outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. Netminder Peter Budaj suddenly looks mortal again, too. After winning seven of his first 10 starts following Jonathan Quick’s devastating groin injury, the 34-year-old is 2-1-1 with a 3.34 GAA and .859 save percentage in December.
Fortunately, Detroit’s (13-13-4) anything but an offensive juggernaut. Only three squads score fewer goals per contest than the Red Wings, who aim to shake off a 4-1 defeat to lowly Arizona. Henrik Zetterberg leads the way with 20 points, but the veteran forward’s also far off his usual pace.
Neither of these teams seems capable of tussling with the league’s big boys on a regular basis. Still, they’ll play each other tight. Expect a heavy emphasis on forechecking here – and a one-goal affair.
THURSDAY NHL FREE PICK: KINGS/RED WINGS UNDER 5 GOALS