NHL Handicapping: Los Angeles Kings OVER 98.5 points
Submitted by Alex Smith
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Los Angeles Kings OVER 98.5 Points (-110 at Westgate SuperBook)
The Los Angeles Kings returned to the postseason before a quick first round exit at the hands of division rival San Jose. With 102 points (one of three Best Bet winners), the Kings nearly won the Pacific Division over Anaheim. But while they dominated during the first half of the campaign (25-11-2), their lack of depth on defense and inconsistent offensive productions proved to be a key weaknesses late in the year and in the playoffs. All-Star Drew Doughty (14 goals, 51 points) logged heavy minutes every night and led the league in shifts per game with 33.3 and ranked third in average time on ice with 28:01. Along with Jake Muzzin (8 goals, 40 points), LA's blue-line corps isn't much to write about. Thankfully, things are still sharp in net with Jonathan Quick (40-23-5, 2.22 GAA; .918 w/5 SO in 68 GP) carrying the bulk of the starts. At age 30, the two-time Vezina finalist has played in a lot of games over the last several seasons, but shows no signs of slowing down. His battery mate for this season is Jeff Zatkoff, who looked sturdy in two seasons of relief with Pittsburgh, but was made expendable with the emergence of Matt Murray.
The key members up front still remain the same. Led by Selke Trophy winner Anze Kopitar (25 goals, 74 points) and veteran Jeff Carter (24 goals, 62 points) who will most likely be re-paired with Tyler Toffoli (31 goals, 58 points) and Tanner Pearson (15 goals, 36 points) again. The loss of physical winger Milan Lucic to division foe Edmonton leaves a bit of hole for a team that loves to bang bodies along the boards; the Kings lead the league in hits per game last year with 30.3 and have been #1 or #2 in that category in each of the last five seasons. The additions of Teddy Purcell (14 goals, 43 points), Michael Latta (17 points and 163 hits the last three seasons with Washington) and Tom Gilbert (14 points, 84 hits the last two season with Montreal) should address these issues, along with camp invites to Brett Sutter (son of head coach Darryl) and Paul Bissonette; two grinders that have enough talent and experience to make the 23-man roster.
Overall, this club still has enough talent and one of the best coaching staffs in the league in head coach Darryl Sutter, penalty kill tactician John Stevens and former St. Louis coach Davis Payne spearheading the power play. The Kings haven't won three cups in the last five years due to fluky play. This is a strong, balanced organization that prides itself on being a perennial Stanley Cup contender and 2016-17 should be no exception. I like Los Angeles to go over 98.5 points and to win the Pacific Division at +225. With the changes in Anaheim, the potential for a letdown in San Jose, and rebuilds in progress for the bottom of the division, the Kings are sitting on another potential triple digit season.
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