Free NHL Pick: Expect Plenty of Goals in Coyotes-Sharks Clash

Jay Pryce

Saturday, February 13, 2016 6:34 PM GMT

The Coyotes and Sharks tussle in San Jose on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET), Arizona’s first trip to the SAP Center this season. Check out our NHL pick and betting analysis here.

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NHL Pick: Over 5.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

San Jose Sharks (28-20-5, 61 pts)
San Jose lost a 6-5 shootout to the Flames on Thursday night, the highest goals total in a Sharks game this season. High-scoring San Jose affairs have been a theme of late. Over the last two calendar months, the Sharks are netting 3.4 goals a night, most in the NHL. Despite the offensive explosion, they are just 6-6 at the SAP Center during this stretch.

Coach Todd McLellan's squad is one of the best at retaining the puck and leans on its offensive forecheck to contend. The problem is, defenders are very aggressive in this set, aiming to pinch the boards and keep the puck nestled in the zone. If the back makes the wrong decision, or is caught off balance, the break is typically open behind them, leading to some high-efficiency chances. San Jose has given up 2.9 goals in this span, with the OVER going 8-2-2. The total has gone OVER in the SAP Center an astonishing 16-6-3.

Veteran defenseman Brent Burns and first-line center Joe Pavelski lead the team in offensive point share. Burns is not afraid to fire away, putting up a whopping 224 shots on goal this season—he leads all defensemen in the NHL with 18 goals. The two have combined for 43 scores and 55 assists on the season.

Pavelski, the captain, is the keystone to the team’s success. When he conjures up a point, the Sharks are 22-12, returning roughly 24 percent to investors on the season. Netting 3.6 goals per game on average, the OVER is 23-8-3 against the NHL odds. The 10-year pro has faced off against the Coyotes 51 times in his career, posting 45 points with 25 goals and 20 assists. He’s generated a point in 29 of the meetings, seeing the Sharks go 25-4 to the good.

Goalie Martin Jones (2.38 GAA, .915 SV%) will likely be man the pipes. Following a slow start, he has 25 wins on the year and has won nine of his past 12 starts, including his last a 2-0 shutout of the reigning Stanley Cup holders, the Blackhawks, on February 9. Still, he is prone to a blow-up outing on occasion.

 

Arizona Coyotes (25-23-6, 56 pts)
The Coyotes took care of the Flames 4-1 last night at the Gila River Arena, snapping a five-game losing streak. The victory makes them a surprising 12-5-2 against Pacific division foes after starting the season a remarkable 11-2-2.

Goaltender Louis Domingue may see action on back-to-back nights. He is 10-7-4 as a starter since taking over for the injured Mike Smith (sports hernia) back in December. The 23-year-old rookie has dropped four of his past five decisions while allowing 18 goals during the stretch.

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is arguably the most important player on the roster, but a pair of 20-year-old wingers, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, are the two making a huge impact. Domi may be the best rookie in the league. His 35 points through 53 games is one of the most for first-year's, and second best on the Coyotes. When the youngster notches a point or more on the night, the OVER is 16-5-4 with the Coyotes averaging 3.1 goals per game.

 

Final Analysis
The Coyotes have allowed four or more goals in six of their last 10 road games, and are yielding 3.7 per game in 10 back-to-back affairs this season. Although, it may be tempting to drink the juice on the money line and back the Sharks in this game, San Jose has won only four of 14 home contests against teams averaging 2.5 goals or more on the year. Arizona enters lighting the lamp 2.65 times a night. The OVER is the play for our NHL picks here.