Minnesota Wild (0-0) at Los Angeles Kings (0-0)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 10:00 pm (Staples Center)
The Line: Los Angeles Kings -105 / Minnesota Wild -115 --- Over/Under: 5.5 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
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The Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings meet in NHL action from the Staples Center on Thursday night.
The Minnesota Wild come into the 2021 season looking to build on a fairly successful 2019-20 season that saw Minnesota finish with a 35-27-7 record, finishing 6th in the Central division and 10th in the Western Conference, but the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in the league pausing and expanding the playoff field among resumption of the season, allowing Minnesota to sneak into the playoffs, but the Wild ended up losing to Vancouver in four games, making the stay in Edmonton fairly short for the Wild. Kevin Fiala is back after leading Minnesota with 54 points last season while Ryan Suter had 48 points with a team-high 40 assists and is also back. The Wild bolstered their lineup by adding Nick Bonino, Marcus Johansson and Nick Bjugstad but also signed Cam Talbot to compete with Alex Stalock for the starting goaltender duties in Minnesota. Only time will tell if this is a year for Minnesota to take another step out of the shadows with the division realignment or if it’s another year of underperforming for Minnesota.
The Los Angeles Kings will look to rebound after missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2008-09 following a 29-35-6 record last season, despite finishing the year with a record of 10-2-1 in their last 13 games and ending the season on a 7-game winning streak when the NHL paused their play. This is most likely a rebuild year for the Kings, with the development of #2 overall pick Quinton Byfield the top priority in L.A. as Byfield was the highest drafted King since Drew Doughty. Olli Maatta and Andreas Athanasiou bring in some forward depth for Carolina, but I don’t anticipate losing sleep or the Kings either for that matter, on the departure of Ben Hutton and Joakim Ryan in the offseason. Jonathan Quick will hope to turn back the clock in goal after posting a record of 16-22-4 last season with a 2.79 GAA and .904 save percentage, hoping to prove that he’s still got what it takes and silence a lot of critics.
Minnesota is 8-2 in their last 10 road games and 9-3 in their last 12 Thursday games. Los Angeles is 7-0 in their last 7 games overall and 6-0 in their last 6 home games while the under is 5-1-1 in their last 7 games as an underdog. Minnesota is 1-5 in the last 6 meetings between these two teams in Loa Angeles.
I think you could try and make a case for either side on opening night, but the fact here is that you have two teams that don’t play in a lot of high-scoring games and while the total is fairly low for opening night where there will be a lot of rust being shaken off, I just think that this is going to be a game more about a lack of offense than good defense being played so I’ll side with the under as my free pick for this game but my stronger play is on the side and I have that available as a premium pick that you can find here.