The Carolina Hurricanes are off their first loss of the season, 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Even so, the ‘canes are off to their best start in franchise history and bring a 5-1-0 record into the Staples Center to take on a Los Angeles Kings team that is fortunate to be 2-2-1 at this juncture.
If you’re of the opinion that Carolina’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year was a fluke you can disabuse yourself of that notion right now. The ‘canes are legit and unlike seemingly every team in the league right now are playing solid, balanced hockey. Most teams are either scoring goals but giving up too many or playing decent defense but not putting ‘the biscuit in the basket’. The Hurricanes are on the cusp of being a top ten team in both scoring offense and scoring defense, currently ranking #11 in both metrics. That along with a +1.17 goal differential is going to win them a lot of hockey games.
The Los Angeles Kings are at the top of one NHL category but it’s not exactly one they want–they’ve played more ‘Over’ games than any team in the NHL. 5 ‘Over’ in 5 games which isn’t hard when your team is allowing 5.20 per game which is the second worst GAA per game in the league. They’re fortunate that they’re scoring 4 per game (#7-T) or else they’d be winless. The big problem is Jonathan Quick has been awful in his first three games. Quick’s statline is downright shocking–0-3-0, 6.43 goals against average and a 0.793 save percentage. The fact that the Kings defense has done a decent job limiting shots on net makes Quick’s poor play even more of an issue. He’ll get the start here but another shabby performance might force the team to turn to backup Jack Campbell who has been in net for both of the Kings’ wins this season.
Carolina is also playing in a good number of ‘Over’ games with 4 in their first 6. This is the first game of a four game road trip for Carolina with stops after this in San Jose, Anaheim and Columbus. Given their recent form it is hard to see them doing worse than 2-2 on the trip and the first and last games are definitely the easiest wins. Look for the ‘canes to keep rolling with a victory and an ‘Over’ in this game.