Following a bit of a break we’re back at it Sunday evening with a winner here at The Sports Geek. As is often the case come playoff time, finding proper value can be tricky and the Second Round hasn’t provided much on the preferred Moneyline wagers. That changes tonight in what promises to be a big tilt between the Sharks and Kings – a game loaded with value on the home side.
Before we delve deeper into the Battle of California’s Game 6, as was expected the Bruins disposed of the Rangers while the Pens made short work of the Sens. That Eastern Conference Final promises to be a intriguing match-up as the speed and finesse of the Pens faces off against the size and strength of the Bruins. It’s the match-up many were hoping for, but our early lean has to be toward the Penguins in 6 or 7 games. More thoughts later on that series.
Los Angeles Kings (+110) @ San Jose Sharks (-130)
This truly has been a homer series through the first five games and there’s no reason to see that coming to a halt now. Both L.A. and San Jose defend home ice exceptionally well, and when you consider the fact that the Sharks were the best home team in the league this season, I’d bank on this series heading back to SoCal for an intense Game 7.
Even though the Kings currently hold a 3-2 series lead, I think most observers would say the Sharks have carried much of the play through the first five games. Though there was much hesitation about backing San Jose given their recent playoff failures, this is clearly a group riddled with depth and a newfound maturity. They realize this could be their last chance at a run for the Cup and aren’t taking that lightly. The often-criticized Joe Thornton is playing like a man possessed and look for that to continue as his team’s back is against the wall tonight.
In Game 5, San Jose played another excellent game but just couldn’t seem to beat Jonathan Quick. The Kings’ netminder is rapidly emerging as the leading candidate for Team USA in the Olympics next year and if you’ve watched him over the past few months, it’s easy to see why. Quick is in the zone right now, but San Jose knows any goalie is beatable if you can get to the front of the net, creating rebound and deflection-type opportunities. The Sharks should be helped immensely in that regard as they’re expected to welcome back key forward Adam Burish to the fold tonight. Burish is a burly winger that wreaks havoc for the opposition and can use his big. Body to disrupt the goaltender. Expect the former-Blackhawks forward to do just that tonight. Without Raffi Torres and Marty Havlat, the Sharks have been missing some depth in their bottom-6 and Burish will provide more balance to their line-up.
Another area where the Sharks have held a decisive advantage thus far has been on special teams. San Jose’s powerplay, especially on home ice, has been absolutely lethal. Jon Quick and the Kings have had no answers for it and if a feisty group like the Kings continues to play on the edge, they’ll take costly penalties and the Sharks will burn them in Game 6. Adding to the urgency is the fact that many of San Jose’s top players have openly expressed how disappointed they have been with their games of late. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture have called themselves out in the days leading up to Game 6 and vowed to respond with better performances. Again, this is a changed group and one that recognizes the urgency of this situation. San Jose will respond tonight.
Expect the Sharks to once again feed off the energy from their lively home crowd. The HP Pavilion provides one of the true home ice advantages in hockey, and the Sharks will come out firing. After a lackluster Game 5 effort, San Jose will get back to dominating all facets of the game and solving Quick will surely take care of itself. Expect a physical game from the new additions, and look for that vaunted powerplay to once again be clicking. It will be a tight, hard-fought affair, but ultimately one in which the Sharks will prevail from. Bank on a Game 7 in this series.
PICK = San Jose (-130)