The regular season ends for both the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night in Denver, although the Avs will be playing postseason hockey. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche
Thursday, May 13, 2021 – 09:00 PM EDT – at Ball Arena
The last two American teams to hit the ice in this very unusual NHL season will be the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche as they face off to close the regular season on Thursday from Denver. It’s available to stream on ESPN+.These teams were West Division rivals this year and it sure feels like both should be in the same division every year, but Colorado will return to the Central Division next season and Los Angeles back to the Pacific. Expansion team Seattle enters the league and Pacific Division for the 2021-22 campaign, and the league is bumping Arizona from the Pacific to the Central. Colorado leads the season series 6-1 and has won the past five, including 6-0 on Wednesday in Denver. The under is 4-1 on NHL picks in the past five meetings in Denver.
Kings Playing Out String
Not long ago, the Kings were one of the dominant teams in the Western Conference, but they will miss the playoffs for a third straight season. Coach Todd McLellan is in no apparent danger as the team is well aware it is rebuilding and wants him to help the club through it. Two big offseason needs will be addressing help on defense and at left wing. The leading scorer on the Kings among left wingers is Andreas Athanasiou with just 23 points. He’s a restricted free agent.
This is a bad offensive team overall, ranking in the bottom third in goals per game at 2.56. Only Anze Kopitar has more than 35 points, and he’s probably at the tail end of his career turning 34 this summer. Kopitar is still owed $10 million per season over the next two years. Right wing Dustin Brown had a solid season with 17 goals and 14 assists in 49 games, but he was shut down recently. In net, former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick (out with upper body injury) is way past his prime at age 36 and was 11-9-2 with a 2.86 GAA and .898 SV this season. Alas, the Kings are likely stuck with him due to his contract. Cal Petersen has been better, is younger and cheaper and probably will be the main guy in 2021-22.
It will be Troy Gosenick in net for the finale. The 31-year-old won his only other appearance this year, a 5-1 victory vs. the Ducks on March 10. Los Angeles had just 18 shots on goal in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss in Denver. The Kings are 1-5 on the NHL odds in their past six in the second of a back-to-back.
Avalanche Highly Motivated
Colorado rolled 6-0 past the visiting Kings on Wednesday behind the first career hat trick from JT Compher. Mikko Rantanen had three assists and Philipp Grubauer turned aside 18 shots; it was his seventh shutout this season, tying for the NHL lead.The Avs now have 80 points, which is second in the West Division behind Vegas (82). The Knights’ season is over. Thus, if Colorado wins this game, it will win the division and the Presidents’ Trophy with the most points in the league and would have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Avs lose, they would finish second in the West and potentially only have home ice in Round 1.
The Avalanche didn’t have star center Nathan MacKinnon for Wednesday’s game and he won’t play here, either, due to a minor lower-body injury. He’ll be fine for the playoffs. MacKinnon has 20 goals and 65 points in 48 games. Also out are wingers Brandon Saad and Matt Calvert and defenseman Bowen Byram. Because Grubauer started Wednesday, it will be Jonas Johansson here with usual No. 2 Devan Dubnyk in COVID protocols – the Avs had a major outbreak earlier this season. Johansson is 4-1-1 with a 2.23 GAA and a .907 save percentage in seven appearances since he joined the Avalanche via trade from the Sabres. Colorado is 4-0 in its past four in the second of a back-to-back. There’s no question the Avs will win this game, but a price of -360 on the moneyline isn’t worth the risk. Thus, take the puckline.
NHL Pick: Avalanche -1.5 (-130) at BetOnline