I’ve spun my wheels over the last three days with my free NHL picks after dropping my only pick from last night’s two-game schedule.
After winning two in a row on the heels of an eight-game winless streak, I was looking for a desperate Habs team to pounce on a Blackhawks team that was playing their second game in as many nights.
That certainly wasn’t the case as the Blackhawks showed much more energy despite the back-to-back, coming out and taking a 2-0 lead in the first period.
While the Canadiens cut that lead in half early in the second, the Blackhawks would add two more from there on out and easily took this one by a 4-1 count.
What a poor effort it was from the Canadiens.
That said, we’ll take the loss and move forward towards tonight’s big 13-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 77-66-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Sharks and Avalanche from Colorado!
Sharks vs. Avalanche Betting Odds
- Sharks (+185)
- Avalanche (-225)
- Sharks +1.5 (-140)
- Avalanche -1.5 (+120)
- Over 6.5 (+100)
- Under 6.5 (-120)
Sharks vs. Avalanche NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
The Sharks hit the road for this three-game swing riding consecutive wins over the Blue Jackets and Stars, however failed to continue that momentum in a 6-3 loss to Arizona that was actually a 4-3 game before a pair of empty-netters.
Still, the Sharks were outshot 38-28 in that one and allowed a power play goal for the second straight game, a rarity for a team that’s been among the league’s best on the penalty kill this season.
The Sharks enter this one sporting the NHL’s top-ranked overall penalty kill with an 87.7% mark on the season and third-ranked road penalty kill with an 85.5% mark.
However, the team has been absolutely gouged at 5v5 this season where they’ve also struggled offensively.
At 5v5 on the road this season, the Sharks rank 27th with 3.14 goals against per 60 minutes and 29th with 1.87 goals for per 60 minutes.
As a result, their offense sits 26th with 2.39 goals per game on the road despite an eighth-ranked 21.5% power play while their 3.57 goals against per game on the road is tied for 25th despite the yeoman’s work on the penalty kill.
While the Sharks have been able to generate shot attempts at an 11th-ranked rate on the road at 5v5, they have been getting beaten in the scoring chance game with their 46.57% Scoring Chances For% ranking 21st and their 45.11% High-Danger Chances For% ranking 22nd.
Goaltending hasn’t been a help, either.
The Sharks rank 29th with an .893 Sv% at 5v5 on the road this season and 19th with an .813 Sv% on high-danger scoring chances.
Looking to buck that trend tonight for the Sharks will be Martin Jones after Aaron Dell had started each of the last four games following a five-goal loss by Jones on January 5th in Washington.
Jones’ game went south last season and rebound was expected this year, but matters got worse, instead.
He’ll enter this one sporting a 3.19 GAA and .890 Sv% on the season – both of which stand as career-worsts.
On the road, Jones has been torched for a 3.46 GAA and .884 Sv% while going just 3-8-2 and his mini two-game hot streak to end December was blown out by a that come-from-behind Capitals win in his lone start of the New Year.
Jones has gone 10-3-1 against the Avalanche in his career, but also with a 2.85 GAA and .896 Sv% in those 14 outings.
The Avs have spun their wheels a bit of late, failing to get any momentum going over the last little while.
After a three-game losing streak to end 2019, the Avs won two in a row to begin the New Year. However, they failed to grab any momentum from those wins and have now dropped four in a row entering this one tonight.
Their last two defeats both came at home and both were decided in overtime against the Penguins and most recently, the Stars.
Their high-octane offense has been held to just five goals over their last two and only eight over their last four, but they are at home again tonight where they’ve been among the best offensive teams in the league.
The Avalanche enter this one ranked third with 3.77 goals per game at home this season where their power play sits sixth with a 24.4% mark.
The problem at home has been on the back end.
The Avs sit all the way down at 28th with 3.32 goals against per game at home this season and their 78.1% mark on the penalty kill at home checks in at 24th league wide.
The possession numbers remain strong, however, as the Avs have a huge advantage in this one at 5v5 play.
Their 52.84% Corsi For% at 5v5 at home ranks 10th, their 54.62% Scoring Chances For% sits in eighth spot, as does their 55.84% High-Danger Chances For%.
Their goaltending has been a little inconsistent at home this season and it will be up to Philipp Grubauer to change that trend tonight.
After carrying the team down the stretch and playing extremely well in the postseason in his first season in Colorado, Grubauer has disappointed a little bit while fighting the injury bug in his second tour with the club.
Grubauer enters this one sporting a 2.92 GAA and .909 Sv% on the season – both well off his 2.64 GAA and .917 SV% from last season – to go along with a 3.10 GAA and .901 Sv%, both worse than his marks on the road.
He’s also struggled to find his footing in the New Year, posting a 3.00 GAA and .896 Sv% in four January outings as his grab on the starter’s job has loosened.
The 28-year-old has been stellar in his career against the Sharks, posting a 2.23 GAA and .916 Sv% with a 2-1-1 record in five appearances against them.
They managed three goals against the defensively-stout Coyotes on the road their last time out, but a poor Sharks offense is now without Logan Couture for the long-term, and I think they’ll continue to struggle at the offensive end as a result.
Jones has been one of the worst netminders in the league on top of all that, so needless to say it’s going to be tough for the Sharks to keep the puck out of their net in this one, little own generate enough offense at the other end of the ice.
I think this is a wonderful matchup for the Avalanche to bust out of their four-game slump on the back of a big offensive performance.
As a result, give me the home side to win this one by at least two goals tonight on the puckline.