The Colorado Avalanche is the only team in the NHL yet to taste defeat in January. The Avalanche are 9-0-1 in 2022 and are outshooting teams by nearly 10 shots per game this month entering Thursday’s game at the Los Angeles Kings.
The only negative number attached to Colorado in 2022 is a penalty-killing percentage of 73.3, although that number did jump a little after holding Anaheim scoreless in four power-play opportunities.
Los Angeles is 5-3-0 in January and has a better shot differential in 2022 (38.4 shots for and an NHL-best 23.8 shots allowed per game).
Colorado is 10-6-2 on the road and defensive lapses have something to do with that as the Avalanche allows the seventh-most goals per game on the road. However, the Kings aren’t lighting things up at home with a 13-9-2 mark. The Kings rank in the middle of the NHL team statistics in nearly every category at home except faceoff winning %.
Colorado (+200) has the best odds to win the President’s Trophy for having the best regular-season record in the NHL. The Avalanche’s odds to win the Stanley Cup (+550) are also tops in the NHL.
Cale Makar (+150) has the best odds to win the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL. Teammate Devon Toews (+2200) comes in at No. 7.
- Game: Colorado Avalanche (25-8-3) at Los Angeles Kings (20-15-5)
- Location: crypto.com Arena
- Day/Time: Thursday, January 20, 9:30 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN
Colorado Avalanche at Los Angeles Kings
Makar, Toews Pointing the Way for Colorado Avalanche
There are plenty of reasons for those lofty aspirations and two of them happen to be high-scoring defensemen Cale Makar and Devon Toews.
Makar is averaging 1.12 points per game while Toews is contributing 1.04 PPG. How rare is it to have a pair of defensemen who played at least half the games and both are producing a point per game? Well, it hasn’t happened since the Calgary duo of Al McInnis and Gary Suter accomplished the feat during the 1992-93 season. The last time that happened and both defensemen had positive plus/minus ratings? That would be MacInnis and Suter once again in the 1989-90 campaign.
We’re not saying it has been a while but Toews was born in 1994 and Makar four years later.
The offensive production of Makar, a former first-round pick, is no surprise as he was a point per game player a season ago although, with 16 goals in 32 games, he has a chance to join Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey as the only NHL defensemen with 40 goals in a season.
The emergence of Toews as an offensive force has been a bit of a revelation. He hasn’t produced points at this pace since he played in the BCHL for the Surrey Eagles during the 2012-13 season. In his first three NHL seasons, he had 77 points in 169 regular-season games.
Toews missed the early portion of the season but still has seven goals and 19 assists in 25 games.
One of his goals was an overtime winner against Toronto that gave Colorado a franchise-record 11th straight home win.
The total, set by the NHL betting lines has gone over in seven of Colorado’s last nine games.
Los Angeles Kings Providing Plenty of Entertainment
It seems fitting that when it comes to entertainment value, what better play to go to than the bright lights of Los Angeles California.
In the Los Angeles Kings’ last 10 teams, the combined goal total has been six or higher on six different occasions. Eighteen goals have been scored in the last two games although only six by the Kings.
Since December 28, 2021, there have been games with 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, and 6-4 final scores. The problem is that Los Angeles has only won two of those contests.
It doesn’t help that elite defenseman Drew Doughty has only appeared in 21 of the 40 Los Angeles games, Olli Maatta has missed 15 games, Alex Edler has been out of 14 contests and Sean Durzi has appeared in just 22 of 40 games.
That has put an awful lot of pressure on 22-year-olf Michael Anderson and 20-year-old Tobias Bjornfot as well as 26-year-old Matt Roy who have combined to play all but one game this season.
What made the recent losses to San Jose and Tampa Bay so hard to take is that Los Angeles had nearly twice as many shots on goal than its opponents and was still outscored 12-6.
“You’ve heard us use the word identity a lot over the last month and it’s gone away on us a little bit,” Kings coach Todd McLellan told the media after the loss to Tampa Bay. “San Jose, we’ve already talked about San Jose, horrendous net play and rebounds. Tonight, you have the Stanley Cup champs come into town, the first goal is a gift, you can’t give a team an easier goal than that. The second goal, remember, we’re playing the Stanley Cup champs, we take a terrible penalty, we don’t get a clear and it’s in the back of our net. If we wonder why our penalty-kill numbers are where they’re at, that plays a big part in it.”
Despite some defensive issues as of late, the Kings are tied for second place in the Pacific Division. There isn’t much margin for error as fourth-place San Jose is a point behind Los Angeles and fifth-place Calgary is just three points behind with five games in hand. With four teams in the Central Division currently in playoff position, the fifth-place finisher in the Pacific Division could very well be left out of the postseason.
The total set by the Las vegas odds has gone under in eight of the Kings’ last 11 games against Colorado.
Colorado Fine Playing on Back-to-Back Nights
Colorado is coming off a 2-0 win at Anaheim although the Avalanche shouldn’t be too frazzled about the schedule having won two of the previous three games this season when playing the night or day before.
The Kings have allowed six goals in each of their last two games including surrendering five goals to San Jose forward Timo Meier and now they will have to face perhaps the most explosive offensive team in the NHL.
Some information that might be of interest to those who bet online, a total of five goals were scored in the two times that Colorado won on the back end of back-to-back games but nine goals were scored in the lone loss. With the Kings’ recent defensive woes, it won’t be surprising to see this game go over the total especially with Colorado looking to attack after being held to one goal with of them an empty-net tally in Wednesday’s win at Anaheim.