NHL Odds: Red Wings host LA Kings

By: Barry Daniels | Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Los Angeles Kings have dropped three of their last four games and are clinging to the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. Though the Detroit Red Wings are in the midst of a three-game losing skid, they are still in first place in the Central Division, six points ahead of the defending champion Blackhawks.

The two squads will meet for the fourth time this season when the puck drops at Joe Louis Arena at 4:30 p.m. (PT).

Los Angeles, which begins a four-game road trip with this stop in the Motor City, is coming off Monday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars as 170 home favorites. It was the Kings’ last game of a six-game homestand that saw them go 3-3.

The setback left the Kings with 77 points and occupying the final Western Conference playoff spot. However, just four points separates the fifth-place Stars from the 11th-place Predators.

Though the combined seven goals against Dallas soared ‘over’ the five-goal closing total, the ‘under’ is still 40-25-1 in the Kings’ first 66 overall encounters. The ‘under’ is also 20-13 in the Kings first 33 road dates, where they are 16-14-1-2.

The Kings relinquished one-goal leads three times against the Stars, the last when defenseman Drew Doughty turned the puck over on a power play and the Stars' Jamie Benn raced up ice to tie the score, 3-3.

Willie Mitchell, Justin Williams and Kyle Clifford scored for the Kings, while backup goalie Jonathon Bernier stopped 18-of-22 shots in a losing effort.

Starting netminder Jonathan Quick (28-17-2-0, 2.22 GAA, .918 save percentage) should get the nod Wednesday despite getting pulled last Monday (Feb. 28) in his most recent start against the Red Wings.

Quick got yanked with 15 minutes remaining in the third period after allowing six Detroit goals during a 7-4 home loss. The Kings closed as 130 favorites, with the combined 11 goals soaring ‘over’ the NHL odds.

However, the Kings had captured the previous two meetings against the Wings this season. That included a 5-0 shutout victory as a 155 road underdog on Dec. 13 in the lone game played at Joe Louis Arena.

Despite taking two of three from the Red Wings this season, the Kings are still a dismal 16-35-3 in the last 54 series meetings and 6-20-2 in the last 28 visits to the Motor City.

Detroit returns home after losing the last three contests on a five-game road trip. The getaway outing was Saturday’s 5-4 shootout setback at Phoenix where the Wings blew a 4-1 third-period lead.

The combined nine goals skipped above the 5 ½-goal closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 35-31 in Detroit’s first 66 outings. However, the ‘under’ is 6-2 in the club’s last eight home dates.

Mike Babcock’s troops also have a better record on the road (22-9-2-2) than they do at home (17-10-3-1).

The five goals allowed against the Coyotes is nothing new for the Wings, as they have now yielded three goals or more in six of their last 10 contests. The Wings are now a poor 19th defensively, allowing an average of 2.9 goals per game.

Luckily, Detroit still leads the league offensively by averaging 3.3 GPG. The squad is averaging 33.2 shots per game (3rd) and ranks fifth on the power play with a 27.1 percent success rate.

Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski, who has missed the last four games with back spasms, is listed as “questionable” on the Don Best Sports injury report.

Los Angeles continues its four-game road excursion Friday with a match in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. Detroit stays home Friday to host the Edmonton Oilers.

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