Last night we tried to get a tad adventurous by picking an Under in a Penguins game involving one of the league’s most prolific scorers in Sidney Crosby. We were wrong and that shows us for trying that. We’re now at .500 in the playoffs with our featured picks but it has been tough picking sides in the post-season, especially when you consider how heavily juiced some of the favoured teams have been. Tonight however there is a big Kings/Sharks game with some definite value on the home side. Going into this series between division rivals I actually liked the Sharks chances to win this game, and nothing I’ve seen through the first two contests has changed my thinking. San Jose lost on an unfortunate call in Game 2, and as they get healthier and in front of their raucous home crowd, don’t be surprised to see the Sharks claw back into this series. Read on below for further details on tonight’s pivotal clash.
Los Angeles Kings (+110) @ San Jose Sharks (-130)
The Sharks have long held the reputation of being perennial underachievers, however their destruction of Vancouver in four straight games in the opening round has done a lot to shed themselves of that distinction. This is a different group, a hungrier team built for playoff-style hockey and expect those traits to shine through in the next two games on home ice. The Sharks carried a large part of the play in both Games 1 and 2 in Los Angeles, and were it not for a tough call that put them on a 5ponp3 late in the game, this series would be knotted at one game apiece.
The Sharks know they’ll have to be a desperate team tonight and expect nothing less. This is now a veteran group that has failed in many past post-season runs and won’t bow out early once again. The Sharks are a mature team and expect them to utilize the home crowd to their advantage. They were the number one home team in the NHL during the regular season and look for that to continue in this series as well. They were a wild 17-2-5 during their 24 home games in the regular season and the Shark Tank is one of the loudest and most hostile buildings in the league. It’s a tough place to play for a road team and expect the Kings to struggle away from the Staples Centre tonight.
Much of this series has been dictated by poor penalties at awful times for the Sharks. They’ve stayed with the defending champions every step of the way and if they can be a tad smarter, they can get back in this series. For the Sharks, key physical forward Raffi Torres has been suspended for the remainder of the series on a questionable hit. He’s an important player for San Jose but his absence won’t be as magnified tonight since skilled forward Martin Havlat is back in the fold. Say what you want about Havlat and his questionable post-season track record but he can put the puck in the net and adds another element to an already scary Sharks’ attack.
Expect a focused and desperate effort from the Sharks on home ice tonight. They simply need the win and are too good a team to go down 3-0 to the Kings. Los Angeles are the defending champions but they’re not good enough to merely coast through the Sharks. San Jose is a veteran team that knows this could be their last chance at a Cup. They’ll respond in a big way tonight and take down a beatable Kings squad. Not only does San Jose pose great value to come back and win this series, they remain a legitimate darkhorse to win the Stanley Cup. Hovering around 25/1 odds, consider this team. They’ll get back in this series tonight.
PICK = San Jose (-130)