Handling the Unexpected Hot Start in the NHL

Nov 9, 2023

NHL, NHL picks, NHL odds

The Los Angeles Kings are 8-2-2 after 12 games so far in the 2023-24 NHL season. Prior to the beginning of the season, the Kings were nowhere near the list of contenders for the 2024 Stanley Cup. Fast forward, and a month into the new season, Los Angeles is among the top ten on the Stanley Cup futures board.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the Kings traveled to Las Vegas where they took on the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. The Kings beat Vegas 4-1 as Anze Kopitar netted his 400th career goal. The win was also remarkable because it was LA’s seventh road victory this season. The Kings are 7-0-0 on the road so far in 2023-24.

As a hockey bettor, how should you handle this unexpected hot start? It’s not like the Kings were in the championship conversation with Vegas, Edmonton, Carolina, and Toronto. But with that 8-2-2 record, maybe they belong in that discussion? Ask yourself the following to see if you should be betting on the Kings anytime soon.

What were the expectations coming into the season and were they realistic?

The Kings made the playoffs for the second straight season last year after going 47-25-10 in the regular season. In each of the last two postseasons, they were eliminated in the first round by Edmonton. Coming into this season, the Kings were given +2350 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Los Angeles is no Anaheim – +25000 back in July – but they were not a serious contender like Colorado (+850), Toronto (+925), or Edmonton (+975). The Kings were somewhat of a longshot early on. They made some additions in the offseason and have a nice corps of skaters. Yes, the Kings’ early season expectations were realistic.

How are the Kings winning games?

Not all wins are created equal. Sometimes, teams just outplay their opponents. There are also times when teams experience some luck. Their goalie gets red-hot or they get a few lucky bounces here and there. A team that is experiencing quite a bit of luck is usually one that can’t maintain that throughout the course of an 82-game regular season.

The Kings so far this season are No. 2 in scoring, averaging 4.25 goals per game. Over the last few seasons, LA has been a strong defensive team with the likes of defensemen Drew Doughty and Mikey Anderson. That trend continues this season as the Kings are sixth in goals allowed per game at 2.67.

The Kings have four losses, two of those in shootouts. All four losses are to top contenders for the Stanley Cup – Boston, Vegas, Carolina, and Edmonton.

Can the Kings’ best players sustain their performance?

The Kings have three scorers – Adrian Kempe (14), Kopitar (13), and Kevin Fiala (13) – in the NHL’s top-30. Last season, they were also the Kings’ top three scorers. Kopitar had 74 points, Fiala had 72, and Kempe 67.

On the back end, goaltender Cam Talbot leads the NHL in wins with seven. Talbot ranks seventh in goals against average (2.03) and eighth in save percentage (.930). Can all of the Kings’ best players continue what they have started?

If you believe they can, it might be time to pull the trigger on the Kings’ Stanley Cup futures. Los Angeles is now given +1800 odds to win it all. Colorado is the favorite at +750 followed by Carolina (+950) and Toronto (+1000).

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