Red-hot Lightning host Kings Tuesday
LOS ANGELES KINGS (25-18-10, 60 points)
at TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (23-23-5, 51 points)
Puck drops: Tuesday, 7:35 p.m. EDT
Line: Tampa Bay -115, Los Angeles -105, Total: 5
The Kings look to snap a two-game losing skid while the Lightning try to pick up a standings point for the eighth consecutive game when these two squads meet for an inter-conference matchup on Tuesday night.
The Kings currently occupy the seventh seed in the Western Conference but are in the midst of a goal-scoring drought, dropping the first two contests of a six-game road trip in a 1-0 loss to the Blues and a 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes. Tuesday’s game presents an interesting matchup as the Kings—who feature the league’s least potent offense (2.1 goals per game)—square off against the terrible Lightning defense, allowing an NHL-worst 3.3 goals per game. G Jonathan Quick (22-13-9, 1.91 GAA, .934 SV Pct.) will be between the pipes for Los Angeles and is a perfect 2-0-0 against the Bolts all-time, making 67 saves on 68 shots in three career appearances. The Lightning have won six of their past seven games and are slowly climbing back up the standings in the Southeast Division. Tampa is playing its best hockey of the season, scoring four or more goals in its past four home games. G Dwayne Roloson (7-10-2, 3.65 GAA, .882 SV Pct.) will make his first start in four games for Tampa. The 41-year-old netminder is 1-6-1 over his past eight starts and has allowed 4+ goals in each of the seven losses. Even though the Lightning are the hotter team, their winning streak is a bit misleading, with four of the six victories coming against teams out of the top eight in their respective conferences. And with the Kings’ 10-7-6 road record, there is a ton of value in this line. LOS ANGELES will be the hungrier team and pick up the win.
This anti-Lightning FoxSheets trend also favors the Kings:
TAMPA BAY is 1-7 ATS (12.5%, -7.1 Units) off a win by 3 goals or more over a division rival over the last 2 seasons. The average score was TAMPA BAY 1.6, OPPONENT 3.5 - (Rating = 1*).
The Kings have used stellar defense and goaltending to remain in playoff contention in the brutal Western Conference. Despite a lack of secondary scoring behind C Anze Kopitar (16 G, 30 A), the Kings have the third-best defense in the league, allowing just 2.1 goals per game.
L.A. plays a much stingier style under new coach Darryl Sutter, who is 10-4-6 since taking over midway through the season. Much like the Blues under Ken Hitchcock, the Kings are content winning 1-0 and 2-1 games. Cornerstone defensemen Drew Doughty (4 G, 20 A) and Jack Johnson (8 G, 15 A) lead the way for the Kings on the blueline, and Quick ranks fourth in GAA and SV Pct. among all NHL goaltenders.
Unlike Los Angeles, Tampa needs to score a lot of goals in order to win games. Luckily, the Bolts feature one of the league’s premier scoring tandems in RW Martin St. Louis (16 G, 33 A) and C Steven Stamkos (34 G, 23 A). Stamkos leads the NHL in goals by five, and is well on pace for this third consecutive season with 40+ goals.
If the Lightning have any shot at making the playoffs, they must find a way to shore up their lousy defense. The return of 21-year-old D Victor Hedman, who missed 13 games with a concussion, will certainly be a big boost for the Tampa blueline. The Bolts are 2-0-1 since Hedman’s return.