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Sharks Blues Betting – Sharks Send Upstart Blues Packing

Posted by Don Melrose on 4/11/2012 4:00:03 PM

Most sports betting players would have had this Western Conference series the other way around prior to the regular season, but it is St. Louis that earned the No.2 seed in the West, while San Jose comes in seventh. But seeding won’t mean much in this series and the Sharks have more much playoff experience than the Blues, which will be the difference.

What: NHL Betting
When: Game 1 is on Thursday, 7:30 PM ET in St. Louis
Where: Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 (St. Louis); Games 3,4 and 6 (San Jose)
Pick: San Jose Sharks +140

Why Bet On San Jose Sharks

NHL betting players are as hard on the Sharks as any team in the league because of their talent level and inability to get out of the West, and usually they’re one of the top teams in the conference, but fell to seventh this season. This could actually help the Sharks as it takes some of the pressure off. Captain Joe Thornton is still one of those players who can dominate a game with his skill, and over the past couple seasons we have seen a physical side to Thornton’s game; his manhandling of Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty in the regular-season finale shows that as Doughty said some things about the Sharks in the media before the game, and Thornton took it upon himself to stand up for his team. The Sharks are 13th in goals scored and eighth in goals against, and they also have the second-best power play in the NHL; however, on the flip side the Sharks are 29th in penalty killing.

The Sharks are pretty healthy coming into this series, and they’ll need all hands on deck in front of Antti Niemi, who has postseason success under his belt from his time in Chicago, and the Sharks are going to lean on him heavily because the Blues aren’t an offensive juggernaut, but Niemi needs to make big saves to keep his team in the game.

Why Bet On St. Louis Blues

Any NHL betting sharp that said they had the Blues as the second seed in the West coming into the season isn’t telling you the truth, and head coach Ken Hitchcock is probably even surprised at how quickly this team came together. If you know anything about Hitchcock, it’s that he likes to play a defensive style of hockey and the Blues led the league in goals against. Goalie Brian Elliott didn’t earn a Vezina nomination, but he put up some wild numbers and the Blues also have the luxury of having Jaroslav Halak as a backup. We saw Halak steal a series against Washington in the playoffs a couple years ago for Montreal, so he is capable if Elliot starts to struggle under the playoff pressure. Both goalies are in the top five of the NHL in save percentage and won the Jennings Trophy as the duo with the best goals-against average, so the Sharks will have their hands full trying to penetrate the St. Louis back line.

Where they could struggle is up front as the Blues were 21st in goals scored and 19th on the power play, and while you’re not going to find any All-Star players among the forwards, St. Louis is a score-by-committee type of team. David Backes led the team in points, but it’s fitting that a pair of defensemen, Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, are in the top five in points as well and the Blues take points where they can get them. They may not have a player who can carry a team, like Thornton or even Patrick Marleau in San Jose, and that could come back to bite them at this time of year.

How It Will Play Out

St. Louis is a -160 NHL betting favorite in their second trip to the playoffs in the last seven years, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they handle the spotlight of the playoffs because there aren’t many players on the team that have much postseason experience. On the other hand, the Sharks are listed at +140 and are loaded with players who know what it takes at this time of year.

This is the upset special of the first round because even though you need strong goaltending and defense in the playoffs, you also need to be able to score and we’re not sure the Blues have enough to get them through a seven-game series. When the Sharks need a big goal, they know they can count on a couple players and we don’t see that in St. Louis, who had a great season and have a fantastic foundation for the future. However, for this series, the Sharks are your online betting pick.

Sharks Blues Betting Pick: San Jose Sharks

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