The Minnesota Wild travel to the west coast for a date with the defending Western Conference Champion, San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are trying to find the promise land for a second consecutive season. Only difference being, this time they want to come out of it hoisting the Stanley Cup. The Sharks enter tonight with a record of 23-13-2 and are playing like a team who are ready to make it right back to where they were. A sizable amount of credit must go to head coach Peter DeBoer and Bob Boughner. They were brought in to fix a simple, but monumental problem in San Jose: get over the playoff choke hump.
The Sharks were becoming a punchline for a team who could never find a way to get over that final hurdle and make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. They finally got there, behind a talented team that includes Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Patrick Marleau. Thornton and Marleau are the ageless wonders. Marleau has been with the team since 1997 and Thornton was drafted by the Sharks the same year. Pavelski has been a mainstay on the Sharks as well, the “baby” of the bunch, getting drafted to San Jose in 2006.
That is unheard of in the NHL. Players that stick to one club throughout their entire careers. And here are three guys, all on the same team, who’ve been with the Sharks through thick and thin. It would be fitting if Thornton and Marleau go out together with a ring on their hands. I was pulling for the Sharks last year for that reason. Thornton and Marleau deserve a Stanley Cup. This is an intriguing matchup with the Wild, who are coming off their first loss in twelve games. The Blue Jackets did their part in continue their winning streak, while ending one for another team. The Wild will seek to get back to their winning ways in California tonight.
Is Devan Dubnyk getting much recognition now? I have to say the answer is no. The problem is, Dubnyk isn’t playing in a market like Chicago, Boston, Detroit, or on any Canadian team. The Wild have one of the better fan bases in the NHL, certainly in the United States, but they are a team who have to fight for any respect. Success in the playoffs would be the ticket to changing all of that. With a record of 23-9-2, the Wild are gaining traction at turning that into a reality. Dubnyk is one of the main reasons why its coming to fruition. He’s an automatic pick to be in the All-Star Game and is flirting with winning the Vezina. The edge at the moment goes to Dubnyk over Carey Price. He enters San Jose with a GAA of 1.75 and 0.941% save percentage.
Underrated in a word is how you can describe Dubnyk. For Martin Jones, you can use underrated to talk about him as well. Jones was the unsung hero of the Sharks’ special ride all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. He is sporting a solid GAA of 2.10 and 0.92% save percentage. His career against Minnesota in particular has been phenomenal. Note that he owns a GAA of just 1.38, with a 0.947% save percentage in four appearances against the Wild. Goals should come at a premium in this one. Thus, I recommended a play on the UNDER.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-110)