by Dan Adkisson
With great scoring depth, excellent defensive play, and some rather impressive goaltending most nights, the Kings are off to a solid start this season, posting an 8-3-3 record through their first 14 games. Some might even say that this year’s Kings are looking their best since their Stanley Cup-winning campaigns, as the team is clearly going strong in almost every facet of the game.
It’s also worth noting that Viktor Arvidsson, a rock-solid 20+ goal and 50+ point-scorer, is still on long-term injured reserve due to a back injury that has had him sidelined since the start of the season. All this just underlines the great depth of the LA Kings roster, which is a prime reason for their early success thus far in 2023-24.
The offensive depth is evident in the distribution of points across the entire lineup, and the statistical evidence of their balanced scoring threat is rather striking. Every one of the starting 18 skaters has recorded at least three points so far this season, a feat no other team in the league has matched. This speaks to a level of consistency and shared responsibility within the group, highlighting the Kings’ ability to find contributions from every corner of their roster.
LA’s flawless away record (7-0-0) is a true testament to the Kings abilities at the moment, yet the impressive statistics do not stop there. The Kings have also scored 38 even-strength goals, third-best in the league. So far, only the team’s power play is statistically (PP%: 18.6% = 18th) at the bottom half of the league stats. However, the team’s penalty-killing rate is fourth best, at 87.2%; so even special teams can’t really be seen as that big of an issue.
All of this is leading toward the Kings betting odds getting shorter day by day.
As the Kings early success is not just the result of a few standout performers ,but rather a collective effort, things are indeed looking good in Los Angeles. Moneypuck.com, a website projecting probabilities for the NHL season, gives the LA Kings a 95.3% chance of making the playoffs, the second-highest figure among all teams. Their current probability of winning the Cup is 9.2%, similarly the second-highest in the NHL, just after the Dallas Stars (11.6%).
As the Kings excellent start to the season has raised their above-described probabilities, the betting odds for winning the Stanley Cup and making the playoffs have also shortened since opening night.
When the season started, FanDuel Sportsbook gave the Kings -400 odds of making the playoffs. Now, the figure is -850. Regarding winning the Stanley Cup, LA’s opening odds stood at around +1800. After the 8-3-3 record, DraftKings has moved the Kings to +1600 odds, placing the team among the top 10 championship-winning candidates.
Interestingly, there is still quite a significant difference between the betting odds and MoneyPuck.com’s mathematically calculated probabilities. The prediction website has the LA Kings as the second leading favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2024, but DraftKings has eight other teams in front of them in the Stanley Cup race.
However, it’s worth remembering that sports wagering is still illegal in California. Thus, local LA Kings fans must look to the neighboring states where placing such wagers is completely legal. Luckily, for example, all sports betting apps in Arizona offer similar betting markets to choose from.
NHL Stanley Cup Betting Odds 2023-2024 (via Draftkigs):
Vegas Golden Knights: +700
Boston Bruins: +750
Colorado Avalanche: +800
Carolina Hurricanes: +800
New Jersey Devils: +1000
New York Rangers: +1100
Dallas Stars: +1100
Toronto Maple Leafs: +1200
Los Angeles Kings: +1600
Can Talbot challenge for the Vezina trophy?
As already established, the Kings deep lineup is currently firing on all cylinders, and several players are making an impact and performing above all expectations. Veteran players such as Adrian Kempe, Anze Kopitar, and Kevin Fiala are all pushing toward a point-per-game pace, and youngsters like Quinton Byfield have taken significant steps forward performance-wise.
Additionally, all six LA Kings defensemen — Andersson, Doughty, Spence, Gavrikov, Englund, and Roy, are basically tracking toward 30+ points this season, while still keeping things tight in their own end, as well.
However, the season’s top performer can be found between the pipes. After signing a one-year deal with the Kings last summer, 36-year-old goaltender Cam Talbot seems to have rejuvenated his career. The veteran netminder already claimed the NHL’s Second Star of the Week accolade (Oct. 30 to Nov. 5) when he posted a perfect 3-0-0 record, .963 save percentage, 1.00 goals-against average, and secured one shutout during that time span.
From his 11 games played this season, Talbot has compiled seven wins (tied for third-best in the league) with a .923 save percentage, and at this current pace, ESPN’s projections indicate 41 wins for Talbot for the whole season. The last time the Vezina was won with the same number of wins, or more, was in 2018 when Nashville’s Pekka Rinne took home the trophy with 42 wins.
But despite the strong start of the season, online sportsbooks still don’t consider Talbot even a candidate in the Vezina Trophy race.
Odds To Win Vezina Trophy in 2023-2024 (via FandDuel):
Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders): +600
Jake Oettinger (Dallas Stars): +600
Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators): +650
Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets): +650
Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers): +700
Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks): +850
Alexandar Georgiev (Colorado Avalanche): +1500
Jeremy Swayman (Boston Bruins): +1900
Linus Ullmark (Boston Bruins): +2500
Jacob Markstrom (Calgary Flames): +4000
Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers): +4000
Adin Hill (Vegas Golden Knights): +4000
Philipp Grubauer (Seattle Kraken): +4500
Filip Gustavsson (Minnesota Wild): +5000
Sergei Bobrovsky (Florida Panthers): +5000
Cam Talbot (Los Angeles Kings): +5000
Great goaltending combined with one of the strongest defensive lineups in the league is truly a pattern for success, not just for an overall team but also for the goalie himself. The top candidates, such as Sorokin, Shesterkin, and Oettinger, deserve to be the heavy favorites here, yet Talbot is trying to enter the race as a late challenger — along with Demko and Hill.
With the current betting odds, Talbot can definitely be seen as a dark horse in this year’s Vezina Trophy race. If he keeps performing like he has, though, his odds will dramatically shorten soon.