Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00 PM EST.
8:35 PM EST. Regulation time only. Both Dallas and Los Angeles are very much in the picture for the playoffs but only one of these teams is legit and this is the time of year that the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. That narrative likely begins here. L.A. has somehow managed to score 18 more goals than they’ve allowed but most of that positive differential occurred in the first month of the season and most of it is luck-driven anyway. Special teams are all luck driven stats and in that regard. L.A. is soaring. The Kings lead the league in penalty kill percentage at 85.5% and in a sport in which one goal is so crucial, that luck driven % is why they’re still in the playoff picture. Should their penalty killing numbers return to league average, the Kings will be losing a lot of games. This is a weak and slow team that gets outplayed often and rarely wins the puck possession battle. We prefer recent metrics than overall ones because teams make adjustments and injuries play a factor too. In that regard, L.A. ranks 22nd in 5v5 Score and Venue Adjusted Corsi For % over the past 15 games. In Corsi Against/60, the Kings rank 23rd over that same span. The Kings are one of the NHL’s most beatable teams because they can’t play catchup, they have one good line and they’re always second to the loose pucks.
Dallas has recorded just three more points than L.A. with one more game played, which shows just how close they are in the standings but talent wise, there is nothing close about these two. Dallas is a true contender that has progressively improved all season long. When the Stars lose, it’s usually because of Ben Bishop and not because they were outplayed. Over their past 15 games, the Stars ranks 7th in 5v5 Score and Venue Adjusted Corsi For % and they also rank 7th in Corsi Against per 60. That puts Dallas in top seven in both Corsi For and Corsi Against, which in turn puts the Stars with elite company. It took Dallas a bit of time to adjust to Ken Hitchcock and a new regime but they’ve been thriving for weeks and are clearly the superior team here by a wide margin. Dallas will badly outplay the Kings here and if bad luck gets us, so be it.
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DALLAS -½ -108 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)