The New Jersey Devils have finally come to life in the Stanley Cup Finals and
have made a series out of it. For two straight games, they’ve beaten the Los
Angeles Kings to the punch and they’ve earned the wins. Can they make it three in a row in L.A. tonight?
As has been the key in many playoff games this season –
and in any year, for that matter – the first goal has been crucial. In the
Devils two wins in this series, they’ve scored first. In the Kings three wins
this series, they’ve scored first.
But the bigger story as we head into Game 6 of the
Stanley Cup Finals is that the Kings are finally facing their first bit of
adversity this postseason. For the first time, a team has won two games against
them in a series. For the first time, the Kings lost on the road and now there’s
a little bit of pressure on them. For the first time, there could be
significant consequences if they don’t show up and win a game.
And for the first time these playoffs, the Kings will be
playing in a Game 6.
After opening as -170 home favorites, NHL betting has raised that figure on the Kings to -175. The total is 4.5.
The good news is that the Kings issues are correctable.
We’ve only seen one peak performance from them in this series and that was Game
3 when they steamrolled the Devils. It’s likely that we see one more effort
like that whether it’s Game 6 or Game 7.
My guess is that it’s Game 6 because head coach Darryl
Sutter will hammer home that the Kings don’t want to head back on the road for
a Game 7 situation in New Jersey.
The Devils have won by slim margins in Games 4 and 5 but
the difference in those games was not necessarily an improved Devils offense or
a decline from the Kings defense or goaltender Jonathan Quick. Rather, it was a
decline in the Kings offense that allowed the Devils to take the heat off of their
blue line and their goaltender, and keep the focus on the Kings, which resulted
in five goals and two wins.
The Kings have had limited scoring chances over the last
two games and in Game 4, they missed more shots on net than they actually hit.
In Game 5, the Kings couldn’t get the puck to the net as they had 14 shots that
missed the net and the Devils blocked 20 more. What Los Angeles needs to do is
find a way to keep the pressure on in the Devils zone and feed Martin Brodeur
as much as he can handle.
At home, in front of a raucous crowd, look for the Kings
to get back to their signature fore-check, get the early lead and pour it on to
win the game and Stanley Cup.
NHL Picks: Kings
New Jersey Devils
@ Los Angeles Kings
NHL Odds: OVER/UNDER 4.5
For some reason, I’ve had an affinity for the OVER in
this series (in some of the games) thinking that we’ll eventually get a 2-2 tie
and hit the OVER. So far, that hasn’t been the case as we’ve seen five UNDERs
in five games.
So what’s going to change in Game 6? How about nothing?
Neither team is generating many scoring chances as the
Devils can’t seem to get more than two goals past Quick – if their lucky –
while the Kings haven’t had many good scoring chances overall in the last two
games. We’re likely to see another low scoring game with OVER bettors needing
plenty of action in the third period to get over the hump.
I’ll stick with the grain in this case instead of going
against it. Take the UNDER.
NHL Picks: UNDER
-160 & UNDER 4.5 -110 ($100 @ 3.10 pays $310.22)