The NHL is set for a busy Thursday night with a total of twelve games on the board. This should lead to plenty of great hockey action. One of the best games on the board is between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights. Both teams are competing for playoff spots in the Pacific Division, which should lead to a tightly contested matchup. The game will be on ESPN+ at 10:00 PM Eastern time.
San Jose has started out the season with a record of 25-13-7, which has them in third place of the Pacific Division. The Sharks are coming off a dominant win against the Edmonton Oilers, in which they won 7-2. San Jose has won four games in a row and six of their last seven. The Sharks are picking up their play as we close in on the all star break and I believe that they have a chance to pull off the upset on Thursday night.
The Golden Knights had a slow start to the season, but have picked up their play recently. Vegas has a record of 27-15-4 this season, which has them in second place of the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights are one point in front of the Sharks. Vegas has won seven games in a row, which has helped them make the jump in the standings. The Golden Knights will look to make it eight straight wins with a tough home win against San Jose.
Thursday night’s matchup between the Sharks and the Golden Knights will be the second matchup of the season series. San Jose and Vegas will meet up two more times on March 18 and March 30. These two teams are both close in the standings, which means the winner of Thursday night’s matchup will take over second place in the Pacific Division for now. This puts even more stakes on the game.
The Sharks and the Golden Knights met up four times during the regular season last season. Vegas took the first matchup of the season series at home in overtime. The next two games of the season series were hosted by San Jose and the two teams split the games 1-1 each. The final game of the season series moved back to Vegas, where the Golden Knights won 3-2.
San Jose and Vegas met up again in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Golden Knights earned home ice advantage and went 1-1 in their first two games. The next two games in San Jose were also split 1-1. Vegas went on to win the final two games to take a 4-2 win in the series.
The first matchup of this season’s series was hosted by the Golden Knights on November 24. San Jose was shut out on the scoreboard that night. Max Pacioretty scored twice for Vegas, while Colin Miller and Alex Tuch each had a goal and an assist. Marc-Andre Fleury had a 33 shot shutout to help give the Golden Knights a 6-0 win at home.
Last season Vegas was able to take the season series 3-1 and the playoff series 4-2. In the Golden Knights history, they have a record of 8-3 against the Sharks. Vegas has only lost one game at home against San Jose and it was in the playoffs. The Golden Knights will look to keep up their success against the Sharks with a win at home on Thursday night.
San Jose has started off the season with some really solid play on special teams. The Sharks power play has been scoring on the man advantage 25.2 percent of the time. San Jose’s penalty kill has also been doing really well. The Sharks have stopped the opposing team on 83.5 percent of their power play chances. Both of these are above the league average.
The Golden Knights special teams have not been quite as good as the Sharks, but they have been solid. Vegas has scored on 19.4 percent of their power play opportunities. The Golden Knights penalty kill has been able to stop their opponent’s 83.6 percent of the time. Vegas may have some difficulty scoring on San Jose’s penalty kill, so they will need to keep up by slowing down the Sharks power play.
I expect Martin Jones to start in net for the Sharks on Thursday night. Jones has a record of 19-8-4 in his starts this season. He has a save percentage of .899 and a 2.82 GAA this season. Jones has not had the best numbers this season, but his record has been strong. He does not face to many shots a game because of his strong defense, which is why he has a decent goal against average.
Marc-Andre Fleury will likely get the nod in net on Thursday night against San Jose. Fleury has put up a .912 save percentage and a GAA of 2.46. He has a record of 25-10-4 in his 39 starts this season. Fleury has six shutouts this season, which leads the league. The Golden Knights will need Fleury to have another big night if they want to make it eight straight wins.
Both the Sharks and the Golden Knights are coming into Thursday nights game really hot. San Jose has had some issues against Vegas since they became a team last season. I believe that the Sharks special teams could help them get over the hump on Thursday night. Fleury will give the Golden Knights the edge in net, but if San Jose’s defense can continue to play strong, I believe they can overcome this.
BetOnline has Vegas listed as a -115 against the money line. This implies that the Golden Knights will win Thursday night’s game 53.5 percent of the time. I believe that with how both of these teams are playing it should be even. Vegas is on a seven-game winning streak, which is bound to come to an end at some point. I believe that the Sharks will put an end to it to take the lead over the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.