The defending Stanley Cup Champions
, the Detroit Red Wings, are going to the Staples Center tonight to defy the LA Kings in a Western Conference matchup of the National Hockey League. Livetipsportal.com presents you the key informations to this game.
The Los Angeles Kings
(3-4-0) are actually ranked 13th in the West and open a seven games homestand, looking to rebound from their 5-4 loss in Nashville this past saturday. If the team should have a bright future with kids like Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Brian Boyle, Patrick O'Sullivan, Jack Johnson (actually injured), or Drew Doughty, their present is not as shiny. Their main asset so far has been their penalty killing
, ranked 3rd in the league with 93.3%, including a perfect 17/17 at home.
Both offense and defense are okay so far for the Kings, with 3.14 GFA (11th) and 2.71 GAA (10th), but the team is struggling in tight contests
, with a 1-3-0 record in games decided by just one goal (ranked 25th) and a 0-1 record in games with a two goals margin. They are eventually 2-0 in games decided by 3 goals or more, which means they need to be clearly dominant to emerge with a win.
And there are very few chances that they dominate the defending Champions, even at home.
Kings announced after yesterday's practice that Jason LaBarbera
will be in net against Detroit. He has a 3-3-0 record so far, with 2.88 GAA and a 89.1 SV% along with a shutout. Besides those average stats, there are some questions regarding his current shape. Sure, he had a shutout friday night in a 4-0 win over the Saint Louis Blues, but faced only 15 shots in the contest. Then he allowed 3 goals on just 15 shots saturday in Nashville and has been pulled off. Against the biggest shooting machine in the league
that the Red Wings are (with 39.8 shots per game), he will probably have a tough job. In his career against Detroit, LaBarbera has a 1-3-1 record with 4.24 GAA.
At the opposite, the Kings are the team with the lowest amount of shots per game
, ranked dead last with only 24.1 S/G. On the other hand, they are also the team that allows the least shots on goal
, letting only 24.3 opportunities to their opponents, while Detroit is average in this domain, ranked 14th with 29.8 SA/G.
Last concern for the Kings: they had 71 giveaways in their four home games
, which is way too much if they want to do something against a team like Detroit, who handles the puck extremely well.
The Detroit Red Wings
(6-1-1) are actually 2nd in the Western Conference, just one point shy of the San Jose Sharks, but with one game in hand. They are actually on a four games winning streak
and have a perfect 4-0-0 record on the road
so far. This game in LA will be the second of a five games road-trip for the Wings.
However, they'll have to deal with the injury to Johan Franzen
, the big Swedish forward being out for three to four weeks with a sprained left knee. While Franzen is currently second in the team with 5 goals, the Red Wings aren't lacking offensive talent, as six other guys have scored 2 goals or more. Plus, excellent sniper Marian Hossa
found his marks with a Red Wings uniform and has a production of 4 goals and 7 assists in 8 games. Hossa is in good shape, notching three and two assists in his last two games, and he also had five of his six goals against the Kings in his last two meetings against them.
Detroit has an excellent ability to protect early leads
, as they've got a perfect 5-0-0 record when they score first. They can also bounce back at any time
, like they did past saturday in Chicago, where they found themselves trailing 2-4 to finally win 6-5 in the shootouts. In fact, the only Red Wings loss in regulation time this season was in their season opener against the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs, where Detroit was still testing a few line combinations, and where Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala was surprisingly heroic.
Last season, the Red Wings went 3-1-0 against the Kings, and outscored them 7-1, winning both meetings at the Staples Center
. As they kept their core intact and added Marian Hossa, while the Kings lost offensive defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in the off-season, history is likely to repeat this season.
And while the Kings rely on a very strong penalty kill, Detroit will oppose them the best powerplay in the league
, with an outsanding 34.4%, being one of the only two teams to be over 25% (the other team being the Saint Louis Blues). On the road, they've got 6 goals on 17 powerplay opportunities, which is 35.3%, only trailing the Blues and their 37.5% (3/8).
In goal, Chris Osgood
is likely to return for Detroit, after Ty Conklin made 36 saves saturday. Osgood will be looking for his third straight win and improve his 3-1-1 record and 3.20 GAA with a 89.0 SV%. In his career against the Kings, he is 16-10-0 with four ties and 2.32 GAA.
The 3 keys of the game:
- The first goal:
If Detroit scores first, the game is nearly over, as i don't see the Kings fighting back to overcome the Red Wings armada. If Los Angeles scores first, they can try to rely on their defense and their penalty kill to keep control of the game, even though the Wings have what it takes to beat them anyway.
- Kings goaltending:
LaBarbera will probably face more shots tonight than he did in his last two starts combined, and he has not been used to face a huge amount of shots this season. How will he handle it? Will he be able to stay focused the whole game with so much action on his net and Thomas Holmstrom always there to screen him? I doubt.
Especially for the Kings. Even if they've been strong on the penalty kill so far, i doubt they'll be able to resist the Wings powerplay for a long time, so they'd better stay out of the penalty box. They need to be perfect defensively. But considering the strength of Detroit's offense, they will either take too many penalties or allow too much space in their defensive zone.
Without any surprise, it is recommanded to bet on the Detroit Red Wings
, that's to say choice 2. The best odd for that is 1.90 at Betsson.