Kings vs. Avalanche: Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Kings vs Avalanche NHL week 17
Los Angeles vs. Colorado, Staples Center

Whatever the reason, it’s been a rough past few weeks for the Colorado Avalanche as they sort of limp towards the playoffs. They head to face the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night not trying to catch Las Vegas atop the West Division as much as holding off Minnesota for the second seed in the postseason. The Avalanche are 4-4 since returning from a weeklong COVID-19 pause and now have to face a confident Kings squad on the road. Los Angeles might not be chasing a playoff spot anymore, but it has won two straight and four of its last six games entering Friday’s contest.

Free Picks

I’ve done this before, and I am going back to the trick where I pick a player who is on a long scoreless drought or just broke a drought. Alex Iafallo hadn’t had a point in eight games before securing a goal Monday against Arizona and then adding an assist in Wednesday’s victory. The legal sports betting sites in New Jersey are offering favorable +350 odds on Iafallo scoring against the Avalanche, and why not? Iafallo has just 12 goals this season despite averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game, and in this case, I’m betting on his confidence rising from two straight games with a point to boost him in breaking down a struggling Avalanche goaltending duo and blue line.

ALEX IAFALLO SCORES GOAL

This is an interesting test between a team that hasn’t been scoring a lot lately and a team whose defending has been subpar for the past few weeks. While the Kings have won four of their last six games, they’ve only scored more than two goals three times during that stretch. Meanwhile, the Avalanche’s goalies have had an .875 save percentage over the last eight games, allowing 10 goals over the last nine periods against the Sharks. The NHL betting sites in New Jersey posted just +132 odds on this game featuring at least seven goals. For those looking for a bit more risk, you can take advantage of the +300 odds for the over 7.5 total goals in this game. I just don’t know if the Kings have the firepower to score enough for there to be eight total goals in this game.

OVER 6.5 TOTAL GOALS

There are many reasons out there as to why the Avalanche have struggled since returning to action on April 22. Much of their performance issues can be pinned on the condensed schedule, and it’s clear that this team looks a bit tired as they play out the final few games of the regular season. Friday’s game in Los Angeles is the middle of a five-game road trip and the seventh road game since April 22. The Avalanche’s fatigue is noteworthy as is the fact they are playing a team they should beat on paper. However, the Kings have won four of their last six games, and the goaltending has been much improved during that stretch. This has all the makings of a potential upset, so I’ll be bold and pick the Kings to win at +225 odds on the moneyline at the hockey betting sites in New Jersey.

LOS ANGELES KINGS TO WIN

Best Odds

Los Angeles Colorado
888Sport
+210 -265
FanDuel
+225 -275
BetMGM
+210 -275

Statistics

Head to Head

This is the fifth matchup of the season and the first of four contests between Los Angeles and Colorado over the final week of the regular season. The Avalanche have won three of the first four games against the Kings this season.

Stats

  • Since returning from their COVID-19 pause on April 22, the Avalanche have split their eight games, but it hasn’t been the best results. Colorado has been outscored 26-24 despite holding a decisive advantage of nearly eight shots per game. The Avalanche’s goalies have a horrendous .876 save percentage in that stretch and its penalty kill is performing at 78.6 percent, far below its previous season average.
  • Over their last six games, the Kings have allowed three goals or more just twice (both of their defeats) while their goalies have posted a respectable .914 save percentage. The saving grace all season, though, has been the penalty kill, which ranks fourth in the NHL with a 84-percent success rate this year, roughly the same rate Los Angeles has maintained over the past six games.
  • Only 22 players in the NHL have reached 50 points this season, and Anze Kopitar is one of those players despite playing for a team outside playoff contention. Kopitar is one of four players from non-playoff teams with at least 50 points, most of which have come on his 37 assists, 11th most in the NHL this season. He has points in 12 of his last 18 games entering Friday, including two goals and two assists over his last four contests.
  • If there was any concern about Mikko Rantanen’s state coming back from a stint on the COVID-19 list, those have been quelled. He had three goals and four assists in his first three games after being activated before being shut out on the score sheet on Wednesday. Rantanen leads the Avalanche with 29 goals and he is one of four Avalanche players with at least 30 assists this season.

Our Prediction for Los Angeles vs. Colorado

Los Angeles Kings to win

On the face of it, the Colorado Avalanche haven’t had any issues with the worse teams in the West Division, just the playoff squads. They are 18-5 overall against the teams not currently in playoff positions in the division, but the Avalanche’s recent wins over San Jose came against a team mired in a month of poor results. That is not the case for the Kings, who might not be ready for primetime, but have been very competitive and earning good results over the past few weeks. The Avalanche can’t expect to just waltz into Los Angeles and earn an easy two points, and I think the Kings will punch them in the mouth with a young, confident group trying to build momentum for next season.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish

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