The Stanley Cup Finals are here, and what we have in this year’s edition of the top series in the NHL, is a meeting between a familiar face and newcomer. That newcomer is the San Jose Sharks, who have been on a major tear dating back to the regular season. If you ask a lot of people, they’re not surprised in the least that the Sharks are here. At the sportsbooks, the Sharks garnered plenty of attention as well, with them being the most heavily bet team to win the Stanley Cup, even back a couple rounds ago. Now that you’re at the final stage, just making it there isn’t good enough. This has been a success of a year for the Sharks regardless, but a loss against the Penguins would leave a bittersweet taste in their mouths.
The Pens have been here before and have been just as potent as the Sharks. There actually was a point this season where the Penguins in the playoffs was in doubt. You look at them now and might think their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals was never in doubt. However, I would have to say we have a matchup which features the hottest teams in hockey, from the last month of the regular season to today.
The Penguins last captured the Stanley Cup in 2008-09 which was their first since the 1991-1992 season with Mario Lemieux at the helm. Sidney Crosby answered the call and brought another Cup to Pittsburgh, now he has the opportunity to bring the Penguins their fourth Stanley Cup. Not if the new kids on the block have anything to say about it. The Sharks have looked like the most comfortable team in the playoffs. Nothing has fazed them, they didn’t get down on themselves when the Blues routed them 6-3. Instead, the Sharks went out and erased it and won the series. If you’re picking this one by the series, I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a toss-up. The Sharks and Penguins are equally matched in this one. Nevertheless, my lean goes with the Pens. As far as Game 1, read below for my pick.
San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Finals Pick
The only slip-up the Penguins have made in the playoffs, perhaps, is giving up on Matthew Murray after allowing a few goals in one game. None of which were his fault, the Pens went to a rusty Marc-Andre Fleury in the next game that proved to be the incorrect decision. Murray will be called on to start his first ever Stanley Cup Final game tonight. He played great late in the season and carried the Pens throughout the playoffs, he is fully capable of getting this difficult job done. He was stellar in a pressure cooker situation in Game 7 against the Lightning, sealing the deal with a 2-1 performance. The Pens have allowed an average of 2.39 goals per game in the playoffs.
Who would have guessed the Stanley Cup Finals would be Martin Jones vs. Matthew Murray in net? On the other side, Jones has held his own as well, as the Sharks have given up an average of 2.28 goals per game in the playoffs.
Jones has posted a 2.12 GAA while earning three shutouts in the last seven games. Both teams have had the perfect blend of offense and defense. They’ve won games both ways, from the offense and defense. The Sharks and Penguins are number 1 and 2 in goal scoring in the playoffs. The Stanley Cup Finals are typically low-scoring, the Penguins have favored the UNDER 8-3-2 in their last thirteen finals games. Also the UNDER has gone 5-1-1 in their last seven meetings in Pittsburgh. This series should slow out slow and sluggish, a feeling out process between these two fantastic teams. In this sense, I like the game to fall UNDER 5.5 goals.
PICK: UNDER 5.5 GOALS (-130)