With a single point the difference between qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs and making early tee times, the games become hugely important down the stretch. And there’s a big one in the Pacific Division on Friday when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Anaheim Ducks. The teams are battling for third in the division, but they’re also trying to stay ahead of the pack in the wild card race. And there’s the natural rivalry between the SoCal teams that makes this one an intriguing matchup.
The Boston Bruins clinched a playoff berth and their season-long quest of catching the Lightning for first-place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference is nearly complete. The Bs moved within a couple of points of overtaking Tampa and have a meeting with the skidding Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday with a chance to move even closer.
Los Angeles Kings vs Anaheim Ducks
Date and Time: Friday, March 30, 2018, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
Opening NHL Game Odds: See the latest game odds
Kings at Ducks TV Coverage: FSW
These two Pacific powers have a strong dislike for each other to begin with. Throw in the battle for playoff points and this is sure to be a feisty matchup. With Jonathan Quck between the pipes, the Kings rely on a stingy defense that leads the NHL in fewest goals allowed. However, the club has benefitted offensively from the return of Jeff Carter, who missed four months with a severe laceration on his leg. Carter has 10 goals and seven assists in 22 games since coming back.
We’ve seen this before from the Ducks. A late-season surge lifts them into the playoffs and they take charge from there. It’s been a rocky season in Anaheim with a number of injuries earlier in the year taking a toll. The Ducks lacked scoring punch with Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kessler and Cory Perry all out of the lineup, forcing the team to swap one of its better defensemen for Adam Henrique. Now that they’re healthy, the Ducks are on a 5-0-1 run as they look to overtake the Kings for third in the Pacific.
84.9 – Games between these two are always scrappy and with that comes plenty of penalty minutes. The Kings have an edge statistically as they own the league’s best penalty-killing unit at 84.9 percent, which is a major reason why they also lead the league in fewest goals allowed. Of course it helps to have Quick in goal and Drew Doughty on the blueline. The Kings also convert nearly 21 percent of their power-play chances and they clicked three times in a win over Calgary.
Kings vs Ducks Free Picks
This game figures to be a struggle given the recent history in the series and what’s at stake. Eight of the past 11 games have been decided by one goal and the Ducks have won six of those games with no team scoring more than four goals. While John Gibson has been solid in goal for the Ducks, Quick has been better and he gives the Kings the slightest edge. And with Carter back scoring goals, the Kings have enough firepower to take this critical matchup.
Kings vs Ducks ATS Pick: Kings
Kings vs Ducks Score Prediction: Kings 3, Ducks 2
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Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers
Date and Time: Sunday, April 1, 2018, 12:30 p.m. ET
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Opening NHL Game Odds: See the latest game odds
Bruins at Flyers TV Coverage: NBC
While the Bruins are tracking down the Lightning for the lead in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers are simply trying to stay ahead of New Jersey and Florida to lock up a playoff spot. Boston is one of the most balanced teams in the NHL, ranking third in goals against and sixth in goals scored. Three players have scored at least 27 goals, led by Brad Marchand’s 33, and 10 players have at least 10 markers. Couple that offensive production with the play of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin between the pipes, and the Bruins are a legitimate contender to win the Stanley Cup.
With 10 wins and points in 12 of 13 games during the month of February, the Flyers appeared to be on the move in the East. But their inconsistent ways caught up with them in March. The loss of goaltenders Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth didn’t help. The replacement duo of Petr Mrazek and Alex Lyon hasn’t helped as they’ve allowed 26 goals over the past seven games and the Flyers are 4-6-3 in the month of March.
8 – Great players have a nose for the puck, and when they get the biscuit on their stick they know what to do with it. Marchand has been all over the ice for the Bruins, at least when he’s on it. He scored his fifth overtime goal of the season to get the Bs a win in Minnesota earlier in the week, and it was his eighth game-winning goal of the year. His 33 goals are the most for any player who’s played 60 or fewer games this season.
Bruins vs Flyers Free Picks
The Bruins have gotten the better of the Flyers lately, winning four straight and five of the last six meetings. And they’ve been stingy against a pretty good Flyers lineup, allowing just six goals during the last four encounters. The Bs can put the puck in the net and Philly’s goaltending has been shaky at best over the past few outings. Boston will apply pressure in the offensive zone and they will take advantage of the Flyers woeful penalty kill to get the victory.
Bruins vs Flyers ATS Pick: Bruins
Bruins vs Flyers Score Prediction: Bruins 4, Flyers 2
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