NHL Betting: Kings Call up Richards for Desperate Playoff Push
They’ve won two of the last three Stanley Cups, but if things keep going the way they are now, the Los Angeles Kings won’t even make the playoffs this year. The Kings (34-23-7-7 SU) are four points out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference as we go to press, with just 11 games left in the regular season. And they’ve been swimming in red ink at 27-44 against the puck line for a loss of 13.56 units. Only five other teams have been worse to bettors this year.
It’s time to bring in some reinforcements. On Sunday, the Kings called up center Mike Richards (five goals, 10 assists, 0.9 Point Shares) from their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. Richards was put on waivers and banished to the minors in late January after struggling to produce in his 10th season in the big leagues. He performed quite well in Manchester, though, scoring three goals with 11 assists in 16 games.
The Center Cannot Hold
Los Angeles might be happy to unload Richards and his big contract down the road, but after scoring just 2.46 goals per game since the All-Star break (No. 21 in the league), the Kings have their backs against the wall. They desperately need more production from the center position; aside from leading scorer Jeff Carter (25 goals, 28 assists, 6.9 PS), LA centers have combined to score just four goals in 10 games this month.
Things won’t get much easier from here, either. The Kings only play three of their remaining 11 games at home, where they’re 22-9-4-3 this year. And they might end up losing the services of center Tyler Toffoli (20 goals, 21 assists, 6.3 PS) after he checked Alexandre Burrows into the boards from behind during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks (+155 away). The NHL front office is reportedly reviewing the incident. Burrows was able to return to the game, so Toffoli could avoid a suspension.
This has been a remarkable fall from grace for a team that was third on the Stanley Cup futures market at 10/1 just two weeks ago. But all’s not lost if Richards can provide some spark for the Kings as they embark on a five-game road swing. That goes double if center Jarret Stoll (six goals, nine assists, 0.9 PS) can return to the lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. This hasn’t been Stoll’s best year, either, but LA could use his defense (plus-1.4 DPS) and his leadership.
In the meantime, the Kings have a winnable game Monday night (7:00 PM ET) against the New Jersey Devils, although they have to follow that up immediately with a trip to the Garden to face the New York Rangers on Tuesday (7:00 PM ET, NBCSN). Make sure to visit Bovada sports for the freshest NHL odds as the Kings make their final push toward the playoffs.