Though we’ve dropped three straight contests here at The Sports Geek, a new month means a fresh start, and we will get back on track in April. Entering the final month of the NHL Regular Season, we still remain red-hot with a solid 30-18 record on the year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs proved us wrong again on Saturday night, and it look slike it’s finally time to begin believing in the young Buds. It’s been nine long years since Toronto made the play-offs, and barring a major collapse, Toronto should be playing into May. Their speed and resilience make them a group to watch down the stretch.
For tonight, we’ll focus on a big Western Conference showdown between two teams desperate for teams in what has become quite the tight race. The San Jose Sharks will host the Vancouver Canucks tonight, and read on below for our thoughts on a potential winner.
Vancouver Canucks (+105) @ San Jose Sharks (-125)
With just two days before Wednesday’s Trade Deadline, both the Sharks and Canucks are pondering roster moves in order to bolster their team’s chances for playing deep into May. San Jose has recently dealt key defenseman Doug Murray, and gritty forward Ryane Clowe could just be around the corner. Vancouver seems adamant about acquiring some depth down the middle, but haven’t found a fit just yet. At the moment, both teams are playing solid hockey and though both squads have endured rough patches, the Sharks and ‘Nucks have their sights firmly set on hoisting the Cup come the end of June.
The Sharks enter tonight sitting comfortably in the sixth spot in the West, and remain one of the NHL’s best teams on home ice. They’re currently 11-1-4 playing at the raucous HP Pavillion in 2013, and tend to make life tough on the opposition when teams venture to Northern California. San Jose enters winners of four straight contests, and are completely healthy at the moment. The team seems to be gelling at the right moment, and playing before thewir loyal fans should propel them to yet another key victory tonight.
Meanwhile for Vancouver, the drama continues to unfold. Roberto Luongo remains a high-priced capable goaltender that’s glued to the bench, and injuries have plagued this otherwise talented roster. David Booth and Ryan Kesler remain out injured, and the Canucks simply do not have the depth to replace their scoring and offensive prowess. The Canucks looked horricic Saturday night, getting routed by a medicore Oilers squad, and know they need to win the division if they are to go deep in the play-offs.
San Jose has already defeated Vancouver in both match-ups earlier this year, and will look for the season sweep Monday night. The Sharks enter as confident a group as there is in the league right now, and despite the trade winds swirling, they remain a veteran squad that should beat the Canucks. They have too much depth and talent on their top-3 lines, and Vancouver will struggle to match this with their injuries and inexperience. At a generous home price, take the Sharks on home ice, a place where they rarely lose.
PICK = San Jose (-125)
It’s a busy Monday night slate in the NHL to kick off the month of April, and we have some bonus selections for your betting consideration. These additional selections aren’t as hot as our featured picks, but we feel good about the crop of games tonight.
Bonus Pick #1: N.Y. Islanders (+120) To most people’s surprise, the Islanders are in the thick of a playoff race in the East. They’ve been playing excellent hockey of late, and their young depth and solid veteran goaltending has them in the hunt. Tonight they represent solid underdog value playing against a Devils team that looks lost without their top scorer in Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian forward played 25 minutes a night routinely, and New Jersey has struggled to replace him. Look for the Isles to continue their steady play and secure another key victory. New York is also much better away from home than on Long Island, a point that must be taken into consideration.
Bonus Pick #2: N.Y. Rangers (-145) Call me a sucker, but I know this Rangers team has more to offer. The depth and talent of their roster is leaps and bounds ahead of Winnipeg’s and it’s about time Henrik Lundqvist starts picking up some victories for his sluggish group. It would be a major failure if the Rags missed out on the post-season, and beating Winnipeg represents a big start at securing a position. Though they haven’t scored in two games, the Jets’ defense is a porous group that the likes of Brad Richards, Rick Nash, and Marian Gaborik should exploit. On home ice, and the pressure turned up, look for this Rangers group to finally start living up to hype and secure a big two points.
Bonus Pick #3: Anaheim (-110) Though the Ducks dropped a heart-breaker last night against a resurgent Blue Jackets squad, they are still one of the better teams in the NHL and will rebound tonight. Dallas also lost last night against Los Angeles, and it’s becoming apparent that their team will not make the playoffs and would rather start selling off assets. General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk has already shipped off team captain Brenden Morrow, and rumours persist that others could soon follow. The Stars are content to hold their fire-sale, while the Ducks desperately want to hold on to their position as Pacific Division leaders. Look for Anaheim to keep on rolling, and secure two points against a hapless Stars squad tonight.