San Jose Sharks look to keep the ball rolling, trying to chase down a playoff spot. The Sharks next opponent is the Chicago Blackhawks and this would be a huge win for San Jose.
Ice-time is set for 4:00 p.m. ET this afternoon at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. 5 Dimes Sportsbook lists the Blackhawks as a slight -120 NHL Odds betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 5 goals. As previously stated, this game has playoff implications .More so for the Sharks who have won 2 games in a row and are on the outside looking in.
We have no confirmation on the status of San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi, but it is confirmed that Corey Crawford will be in net for Chicago.
Crawford has played exceptionally well as of late, going 4-0-1 in his last 5 games with a 1.22 GAA and .962 SV%. On the road this season, Crawford is 15-6-1 with a 1.89 GAA. The Sharks offense will have their hands full as Crawford has been on fire and is known to come through in the clutch.
As for Niemi, he's coming off of a 2-0 shutout of the Nashville Predators in which he stopped all 35 shots. He's not the caliber of a player as Corey Crawford, but he's played well as of late, going 3-1 with a 1.48 GAA in his last 4 games. Niemi will need to be at his best as Chicago's defense is the 2nd best in the NHL, allowing just 2.3 goals per game.
Low Scoring Affairs
The numbers aren't there as of late for guys like Patrick Kane (64 points), Jonathan Toews (54 points), and Marian Hossa (49 points). That's because Chicago has been playing a lot of low scoring games, leaving the brunt of their work to Crawford and players like defenseman, Duncan Keith. While Crawford has certainly done his job, Keith has notched a couple of assists in his last 5 games and is one of the better defenders in the game.
Any of the Blackhawks top players can go off at any time, scoring a barrage of points and despite the lack of offense lately, are still very dangerous.
Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton
When talking about the Sharks, we must first mention the play of center Joe Pavelski. Pavelski leads San Jose with 32 points and 29 assists. 17 of those goals come on the power play and Pavelski is a player that will put a lot of pressure on the opposing defense with 213 shots on goal this season. He's also a clutch player with 4 game winning goals to his credit and is a very respectable +13 for the season.
Pavelski has been held scoreless in his last 2 games which were low scoring victories for San Jose, but had 1 goal and 3 assists in his previous 3 games to this mini winning streak. The Sharks desperately need to continue winning and are facing possibly the best defense in the NHL in the Blackhawks. Players like Joe Pavelski and superstar veteran Joe Thornton (13 goals, 44 assists) will need to come up in a big spot. It had been reported that Thornton had criticized his team's GM. Here's Thornton's opportunity to get his team into the playoffs and he's more than capable of doing so.
Chicago is clearly the better team between the two, but look for San Jose to come up big and keep their streak alive as a loss would be a major setback in their goal to be part of the post-season. Add Sharks to your NHL picks.
Free NHL Pick- San Jose +100 at 5Dimes