NHL Lines: Los Angeles vs Florida Pick
A pair of teams chasing down playoff spots will meet on Thursday night when the Los Angeles Kings (21-17-12) take on the Florida Panthers (22-17-10). Cappers Picks will provide free NHL picks all season so check back often.
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Los Angeles vs Florida
When: Thursday Feb. 5 at 7:30 pm EST
Where: BB&T Center
NHL Gambling Line: Florida +109/ Los Angeles -120
NHL Gambling Over Under Line: 5
No, that is not a typo above, both of these teams are outside of the playoff picture and hunting for wild card spots. That’s surprising on two levels in that the Panthers are still hanging around at this point and that the Kings have not been able to find their groove and are struggling to get into the playoff picture.
Both of these teams have 54 points, but it’s the Kings who find themselves in a more advantageous position just five points out of the wild card, while the Panthers sit seven back in the Eastern Conference.
Let’s start with last year’s champs. The Kings have been anything but dominant this year, but we’ve all seen this movie before with this team. L.A. will sort of sidle along throughout the regular season before kicking their game into a new gear for the playoffs. This season seems a little bit different though as the Kings have been on the outside looking in and may need to start their push a little earlier than usual.
The team parted ways (for now) with Mike Richards as he was put on waivers but not picked up and thus sent to the AHL. You know your team has depth when you can afford to just waive a $5 million two-time Stanley Cup winner. Richards however, like much of the team had under performed and the Kings likely thought it was time for a shake up to try to get this snoozing team moving.
The Kings went into the All Star break on a four game losing streak, and looked like they might turn it around, coming out of the break with a 4-3 win over Chicago, but have since dropped their last two games for a total of six losses in their last seven.
L.A. is in the midst of a five game road trip where they dropped the first two games by a combined score of 7-1, if this team doesn’t get it going and comes back home with a losing record on this trip, it’s going to be a steep climb for them to reach the post season.
The Panthers have definitely surprised a lot of people this year. To start the season these guys were looking like a shoe-in for a lottery pick once again, but have proved the naysayers wrong with some strong defensive play and a career resurgence by Roberto Luongo in goal.
Luongo has long been regarded as one of the better goalies in the league and he’s been a stabilizing presence on the back end for this young team. Bobby Lu has posted a 2.47 GAA and .918 SV% to go along with an 18-13-8 record.
Youngsters Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad have led the way offensively with 31 and 29 points respectively, and Ekblad’s 29 points as a rookie defenseman is very impressive and should garner the number one pick some serious consideration for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
No, this Florida team will not light up the scoreboard or dazzle you with flashy play, but they’re stifling to play against and are a hard working team that doesn’t make it easy on anyone.
Kings vs. Panthers 4* Free Pick
This is a big statement game for the Kings, despite a seemingly pedestrian opponent. This Kings team always finds a way to put their best foot forward when their backs are against the wall and that’s very much the case tonight. With two losses already on a five game trip, this is the swing game that can either turn this trip around or turn it into a disaster.
Florida works hard yes, but the Kings are built for grinding, hard checking hockey and they do it better than pretty much anyone in the league. I like L.A. to right the ship tonight and earn a tough one 2-1. Take the Kings.