Not a good way for us to kick off the 2014 NHL postseason as the Ducks and Stars played more of a wide open game that mirrored what is usually the Eastern Conference type game as opposed to the defensively sound Western Conference style of play. Anaheim got off to a hot start as they scored in the first 2 minutes of the hockey game and followed with two more in the first frame to go up 3-0 after the first frame. They scored again in the second, and that would have been okay, however Dallas replied with two late second period goals that sank our pick and put a damper on our first night of the 2014 playoffs. As expected, all three games last night were one-goal games which just goes to show there is great value in picking the underdogs in these scenarios, which is something we are going to be looking at for tonight’s pick.
Los Angeles Kings @ San Jose Sharks
My Pick – KINGS (+122) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
Perhaps one of the best series in the first round across the NHL this year involves two teams from California as the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks renew hostilities tonight from the Shark Tank in San Jose. The Kings are often looked upon as a team that has the capability to be the best defensive team in the entire NHL, while the Sharks can be viewed as a powerful offensive team that plays solid defence as well. Things can change in a flash though as the Kings have found their scoring touch since the trade deadline and the Sharks scored just 12 goals over their final five games and have just one tally with the man advantage over their last four games and 12 opportunities. The total for this game sits at 4.5 goals, and that comes as no surprise to me. The Kings are the league’s number one ranked team as they surrender just 2.1 goals per game on average, and they are also the league’s number one ranked team in road defence, giving up just 2.2 goals away from the Staples Center this year. Over their last ten head-to-head meetings, the Kings and Sharks average just 3.6 total goals between the two clubs. Amazingly, the Kings have held the Sharks to just 1.6 goals per game over those ten contests, and this is especially impressive seeing as San Jose averaged exactly 3 goals per game this season, almost twice the amount they score against L.A. Los Angeles has scored just an average of 2 goals per game against the Sharks over their last ten meetings, however LA has won four of their last six against San Jose, and two of those wins included four-goal efforts from the Kings. Marion Gaborik gives a Kings team that was hard up for offense early a serious scoring threat along with the likes of Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. The big, powerful forward group the Kings boast maybe be harder to keep off the scoresheet than some may think. The Kings are also a very good road team, winning nine of their last 12 games away from home, and I like them to start this series off with another victory on the road at a good price. Take the Kings tonight to open up what should be an long and entertaining first round series from California with a victory.