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NHL Playoffs Betting Line: Los Angeles Kings vs St. Louis Blues Game 5
Carrie Stroup here with your NHL Playoffs line for the Los Angeles Kings vs St. Louis Blues Game 5. Open an online betting account today at Sportsbook.com and receive up to $250 in FREE CASH here.
Season Series: Los Angeles won 3-1
Sportsbook.com Game 1 Line & Total: Blues -160 & 5 under -155
Series Price: St. Louis -160, Los Angeles +140
After pulling off the biggest upset of the first round by knocking off the No. 1 Vancouver Canucks in five games, the Los Angeles Kings look to take down the second-seeded St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Not many experts gave the Kings much of a chance against the Presidents’ Trophy winner Canucks. Los Angeles made quite a statement with a knockout punch of the defending Western Conference Champions in just five games. The Canucks had no scoring depth and simply could not solve the stingy team defense and elite goaltending of Jonathan Quick. St. Louis, meanwhile, is now the favorite to win the Stanley Cup at 7-to-2 odds after starting the season as a 40-to-1 longshot. The Blues rattled off four wins in a row after dropping Game 1 in overtime to easily take out San Jose in the first round, outscoring the Sharks 14-8 in the series. In this matchup, both teams will face an opponent with identical strengths, as the Blues and Kings rank first and second, respectively in goals allowed. If you like scoring, this won’t be the series for you, but expect two evenly-matched foes to do battle in what could be the most competitive series of the second round.
Why Los Angeles Can Win:
1. Jonathan Quick
The Kings goaltender, as advertised, was absolutely brilliant in their opening series with Vancouver, posting an incredible .953 SV Pct. It’s hard to argue any player is more valuable to his team than Quick is to the Kings, who made the playoffs despite having the second-worst offense in the league, averaging a measly 2.3 goals per game. The 26-year-old American netminder should be considered an early favorite for the Conn Smythe after shutting down the potent Vancouver offense, and he will have the luxury of facing a much less intimidating attack in St. Louis, who also ranked in the bottom third of the league in goals per game (2.5). In a series with two teams who seem to prefer to prevent goals rather than score them, the Kings have an advantage between the pipes.
2. Offense Finally Coming Around
The knock on this Kings team, as mentioned above, was their woeful inability to score goals. But if you take a closer look at the recent numbers, Los Angeles might finally be turning a corner offensively. As bad as the Kings were overall, they actually scored 65 goals in the final 21 games of the season, outscoring opponents by an average of 3.1 to 2.1 during that stretch. The trade deadline acquisition of Jeff Carter from Columbus added important depth to the forward group, creating more space for players like captain Dustin Brown, who had an incredible first round series, scoring four goals (two shorthanded) and one assist. It also looks like the playoff experience of C Mike Richards (1 G, 2 A) is paying dividends for Los Angeles. Richards is one of the best two-way players in the game and his ability to create offensive chances, kill penalties, and get under opponents’ skin is an invaluable quality in the postseason. Throw in lethal C Anze Kopitar (1 G, 3 A)—one of the most underrated players in the league—and it’s clear that the Kings offense is only going to improve as the playoffs wear on.
Why St. Louis Can Win
1. Commitment to The Plan
It would be an absolute stunner if Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock did not win the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year considering the job he’s done with this young St. Louis team. After a disappointing start to the season, the Blues ended the year on an incredible 43-15-11 run after Hitchcock took over on November 8. St. Louis features an excellent group of big, physical forwards, which suits Hitchcock’s coaching style perfectly—forcing the opposition to earn every inch of space on the ice. Hitchcock knows what it takes to win in the postseason, having won a Stanley Cup as the bench boss of the Dallas Stars in 1999, and there isn’t a more disciplined team in the league that stays committed to executing its game plan than the Blues this year. With two of the best young defensemen in the game—Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo—to complement two-way power forwards like David Backes and T.J. Oshie, the Blues are, hands down, the toughest team to play against in the NHL.
2. Mac Attack
The success of the Blues is even more impressing considering they spent much of the season without one of their best offensive weapons: C Andy McDonald. After suffering a concussion in the third game of the season, McDonald missed 51 games before returning to the lineup on February 12. All McDonald did in the first round was lead St. Louis in points with four goals and four assists in five games—a stellar 1.6 points per game average (2nd only to Claude Giroux of the Flyers). The Blues also got terrific production from McDonald’s linemate—C Patrick Berglund (3 G, 4 A), who averaged under a half-point per game during the regular season. It’s clear that as these two develop more chemistry, the Blues now have a second legitimate scoring line to go along with the top unit of Backes, Oshie and David Perron (1 G, 2 A)—who also missed 25 games himself because of concussion symptoms. If Perron and McDonald can continue at their impressive scoring pace, the Blues are going to be an extremely tough out in this series.
Just like last round, the Kings are undervalued while their opponent is getting too much credit from Vegas. While St. Louis isn’t nearly as overpriced as the Canucks were at -225, this line shows that the books are focusing way too much on the teams’ seeds, and not nearly enough on their quality of play. As we’ve seen in nearly every major sport, it’s not about being the best team—it’s about being the best team at the right time. The Kings are the hottest team in the West, and while the Blues were equally impressive in their first round win, the Sharks were never a legitimate threat and struggled to maintain any form of consistency throughout the season. These two teams are dead even in almost every category, and the series should be priced closer to -110 for each squad. In a series where goals will not come easy, it’s hard not to like the Kings at plus-money with the best goaltender in the playoffs between the pipes.
- Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter
Submitted by Carrie Stroup on Fri, 04/27/2012 - 13:44