Two Golden States foes will face off Thursday night in L.A., as the San Jose Sharks (5-5-1) will take on the Los Angeles Kings (3-6-3). These are the two bottom teams in the West Division. However, San Jose sits just two points out of fourth place and a playoff spot. This is also a rematch of Tuesday night, where the Sharks won a thrilling 4-3 game in a shootout.
By the Numbers
When you stack these two offenses side-by-side, the Kings actually carry the slight advantage. L.A. is averaging 2.83 goals per game, 17th in the NHL, while San Jose is 26th with an average of 2.55 goals. The Kings also have a superior power play and shooting percentage, despite averaging three fewer shots than the Sharks.
Defensively, the teams are close once again. The Kings yet again have an advantage in goals allowed, leading 3.42 to 3.55. But both L.A. and San Jose are averaging about 32 shots allowed and eight minutes in the box while carrying the exact same penalty kill percentage, which at 85.4 percent happens to rank in the top-five of the sport.
Sharks Betting Preview
The Sharks have had stretches of up-and-down play all season but are heading into Thursday with two wins in their last three games. Following a decent break after a pair of games were postponed, San Jose tacked on a season-high five goals in a win over the Ducks, while their most-recent game was another strong effort in a win against these very Kings.
In Tuesday’s game in L.A., San Jose dominated on offense, registering 40 shots on goal while only allowing 27, and had half as many giveaways as their opponent. They managed to set the tone with a big first period, as Timo Meier scored in the first 90 seconds of action while Logan Couture doubled the lead late in the period. Then despite being down heading into the waning seconds of regulation, Evander Kane tied the game up with 45 seconds to go before Couture sealed the win in a shootout.
Couture and Kane, the two heroes of Tuesday, also happen to be San Jose’s leading scorers thus far. Couture paces the team with 10 points, including a team-leading six goals, while Kane has nine points, including a team-high five helpers. The Sharks also have a trio of players with three goals and four assists able to provide offense; Brent Burns, Ryan Donato, and Tomas Hertl.
San Jose has a true tandem in net with Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk. Jones has the slight 7-6 edge in starts, including getting the nod Tuesday against L.A. He carries a 5-2-0 record, but a 3.70 GAA and .877 save percentage, while Dubnyk has a 2.71 GAA and .916 save percentage but a 0-3-1 record.
Kings Betting Preview
The Kings were able to overcome three straight losses to open up the year with three wins over their next four games. However, since a 2-1 victory over the Wild back on January 26th, Los Angeles is 0-4-1, with three of those losses coming by two or more goals. Their most recent game against the Sharks was their closest effort yet, able to send the game to a shootout.
As mentioned earlier, the Kings were still badly out-shot against San Jose on Tuesday. However, they had more takeaways, more hits, and spent half as much time in the penalty box as their opponent. L.A. overcame a two-goal deficit in the second period, where Anze Kopitar scored to cut the lead to one before Dustin Brown tied the game on a power play about 11 minutes later. Brown then gave the Kings a 3-2 lead when he scored his second of the game halfway through the third before they allowed San Jose to tie things up with under a minute to go.
Los Angeles, just like San Jose, was led by their leading scorers. With a whopping 12 assists and 15 points, Kopitar is the leader for the team, followed closely by Brown and his 11 points and team-high six goals. Following those two are three players, each with eight points; young wings Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe, as well as veteran d-man, Drew Doughty.
They have also had a timeshare in net between longtime goalie Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen. Petersen drew the start on Tuesday and had seven starts to Quick’s six. But Petersen has been the better goalie thus far, going 1-4-1 but with a 2.56 GAA and .925 save percentage, while Quick is 2-2-2 with carries a dismal 4.05 GAA, and .867 save percentage.
Despite the difference in record, these teams are about as evenly-matched as it gets. But the Kings are at home, average more even-strength goals and power-play goals, and nearly pulled off the win despite getting outplayed on Tuesday. Give me L.A. at plus-odds in this one.
Pick: Kings +100