No NHL coach was fired during the entire regular season last year, but heads are starting to roll just one month into the 2018-19 campaign.

The Los Angeles Kings were the first to pull the trigger on their bench boss, canning John Stevens Sunday, and the Chicago Blackhawks followed suit Tuesday with the surprising axing of long-time coach Joel Quenneville. Meanwhile, after the latest debacle to go down in Ottawa (with players recorded ripping their coaching staff during an Uber conversation), don’t be surprised if Senators coach Guy Boucher gets his walking papers soon as well — if he doesn’t quit out of frustration first.

When teams make firings this early into the season, they’re looking to immediately turn things around. That’s certainly the case in LA, where the Kings are 4-8-1 through 13 games and have been outscored 45-28. But will Stevens’ firing pay instant dividends for the Kings as they host the rival Anaheim Ducks in one of nine games on Tuesday’s National Hockey League card? Let’s look a bit deeper into this matchup as we look for our fourth straight winner in this NHL pick of the week series.

Anaheim Ducks vs Los Angeles Kings Betting Odds

Despite their early-season struggles, the Kings continue to lay favorite prices, especially when they’re at home. That’s the case once again tonight as oddsmakers have priced Los Angeles as -145 chalk on the moneyline, while the Ducks pay +131 to pull off the upset and earn their second straight win.

Expect the Kings to come out with some extra jump in their step tonight after the coaching change? If so, you might want to consider backing LA to win by more than 1 goal tonight, since a wager on the Kings -1.5 puckline pays a sweet +195. But if you aren’t convinced the change to Willie Desjardins behind the LA bench will do that much to change the Kings’ fortunes, the +1.5 insurance with Anaheim is available at -225 juice.

The big thing that jumps about to me about this game, however, is how low the Over/Under is. I’m not talking about the actual total of 5.5, since seven of tonight’s nine games have a similar total after scoring has slowed down across the National Hockey League. No, I’m referring to how juiced the Under 5.5 is in this matchup. If you’re going to take the obvious choice and go Under the total in this matchup of low-scoring teams, you’re going to have to pay a -133 premium to do it. However, the Over pays +121, a tempting proposition with the possibility that this game is 3-2 in the late going and an empty-netter vaults the final score over the number.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from at 1 p.m eastern on November 5, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

Ducks Struggling To Generate Any Offense

After a decent start to the season, the Ducks have run into some hard times. Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Blue Jackets was Anaheim’s first victory since October 17, and they’ve got just four regulation wins to their credit through 15 games.

Might the Ducks build some momentum from that win over Columbus? Maybe, but Anaheim’s still got to figure out a way to start putting the puck in the net. Sunday’s win marked the seventh time in eight games that the Ducks scored 2 goals or less in the first 60 minutes of action. Even with Anaheim playing some solid defense (2.67 goals-against per game this year), 2 goals isn’t going to be enough to get you a victory on most nights — and even when you do win, it’s by the skin of your teeth. Not being able to win the occasional game by a comfortable margin takes a physical toll on your best players (needing to play more) and an emotional toll on all of them, not to mention all of the pressure it puts on star goaltender John Gibson.

I’m not convinced those offensive issues get any better tonight. Cam Fowler was the only Ducks player to score last game (recording a hat trick, including the winner in overtime) as the rest of Anaheim’s players remain stuck in a slump. The Ducks may also be without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had to sit out Sunday’s contest due to injury and is listed as questionable for tonight.

Will Coaching Change Inspire Kings?

Common perception is that a mid-season coaching change does give a struggling team a much-needed kick in the pants and causes them to instantly turn their season around. And we have seen underachieving teams in recent years respond tremendously to having their coach fired. The Devils and Penguins both won Stanley Cups in the same season that their coach was fired, while the St. Louis Blues went on a huge second-half tear a couple of years ago after Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock.

But are teams a good bet in their first game with a new head coach? Recent betting history actually suggests they’re not. Since the beginning of 2013, there have been 16 mid-season coaching changes in the NHL, and the combined record of teams in their first game with the new coach is just 7-9. Even with average moneyline odds of +120 on those teams, a 7-9 record hasn’t been enough to turn a profit betting on this angle.

Now that we’ve established that blindly betting on the team with the new coach isn’t a good strategy, are the Kings worthy of a wager here on their own or should we expect their struggles to continue? Well, despite the canning of Stevens, LA has shown some signs recently of coming out of its funk, winning 2 of its last 3 (including Stevens’ final game on Saturday). The Kings have also scored 10 goals in those 3 games, which may not seem like a lot until you consider that they’d managed just 8 goals in their previous 5.

This is also a matchup of southern California rivals, so home ice may matter more than usual as the fans get into it just a little bit more. That seems to have been the case of late, with the home team claiming 6 of the last 8 meetings.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings Betting Pick

Although the statistics show that betting on teams in their first game with a new head coach isn’t a winning strategy to follow blindly, I do like the Kings to win their first game with Willie Desjardins behind their bench.

In addition to playing with more focus and intensity tonight, the Kings have also shown a much greater ability to put the puck in the net of late. With or without Getzlaf, the Ducks simply aren’t generating enough offense right now (30 shots or less in 9 straight games) to pull off an upset on the road against a motivated opponent.

Although I prefer the safety of taking the Kings on the moneyline, I’m also reluctant to pull the trigger at this -145 price. Instead, I’ll take Los Angeles to win the game on the 3-way moneyline, knowing that all of the Kings’ first four wins this season came in regulation time. We’ll lose this wager if the Kings win in overtime, but at the much more favorable +110 odds, I think it’s a gamble worth taking in a game Los Angeles really should (and probably needs to) win.

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