For a fourth straight playoff round, the Los Angeles Kings have won the
opening three games of the series and are now on the brink of winning the
Stanley Cup. As a No. 8 seed from the Western Conference, who could have not
only predicted this but foreseen such dominance?
The Kings have won 15 of 17 playoff games and the New
Jersey Devils – just like the three opponents before them – have had no shot
whatsoever against the Kings. At this point, New Jersey sees the writing on the
wall: it’s over. No matter what happens in Game 4, they know that there’s no
way they can win four straight against the Kings – especially since they’ve only
lost two playoff games in total.
And that psychological aspect is going to be a problem
for the Devils in Game 4.
The Devils badly needed Game 3, but not only did things
not get better, they got worse. In the first two games, the Devils at least had
a chance in overtime as both games were tied 1-1 after 60 minutes. In Game 3,
they were wiped off the map with a 4-0 result.
What’s scary is that the Kings still didn’t play their
best game – in my eyes – as it wasn’t until the third period that they really
turned up the heat. They played well in spurts throughout periods one and two but, in the third period, the Kings' fore-check suffocated New Jersey and frustrated
them as they have so many other teams.
In net, Jonathan Quick is unbeatable. Not that the Devils
are getting great chances on him, but they simply can’t find a way through him
right now. He’s allowed two goals through three games and both came via lucky
bounces. Ilya Kovalchuk has been a complete non-factor in this series, as have
many of the Devils' weapons. Their power play is dormant too as evidenced by
their failure to score in a five-on-three situation in Game 3.
This series is done. The Kings can smell blood and
they’ll be even more jacked up in Game 4 than they were in Game 3. Their only
two playoff losses have come in Game 4’s but with the Stanley Cup on the line
and a chance to win it in front of their home fans, they’ll finish the job. As
long as they score the first goal, New Jersey will fold.
NHL odds makers have the Kings as heavy home favorites at -185. With the total at 4.5, not much scoring is expected.
NHL Picks: Kings
New Jersey Devils vs. Los Angeles Kings
NHL Odds: OVER/UNDER 4.5
We almost lost the UNDER in Game 3 as the Kings got
pretty sloppy near the end of the game, and the Devils actually had some decent
scoring chances to push this game OVER the total. Even so, Jonathan Quick stood
tall and earned the shutout for us to hit our parlay in the last game.
Going into Game 4, Quick is the reason for
another UNDER. As mentioned above, the Devils just can’t figure out a way to
beat him. They’ve tried screening him, they’ve tried shooting high, they’ve
tried crashing the net, they’ve tried to catch him moving side-to-side and
they’ve tried firing non-stop shots at him. At the end of the day, they have
just two goals to show for their efforts and both came off fortunate bounces.
The Kings really ramped up the offense in Game 3 and
proved that when they’re on, the Devils can’t handle them. That’s really what
scares me a bit off the UNDER because Los Angeles should get between two and
four goals in Game 4, but will the Devils find the back of the net once or
twice? Will the Kings get sloppy again if they get ahead by two or three goals?
Are the Devils going to send more of their defensemen to pinch in since they’re
getting no offense as is?
I think the answers to those questions are yes, so I’ll
take the OVER along with the Kings for Game 4.
NHL Picks: UNDER
Kings -170 & OVER 4.5 -104 ($100 @ 3.11 pays $311.49)