NHL Picks: Ducks vs. Sharks

David Schwab

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 2:40 PM GMT

The Anaheim Ducks will look to keep pace with the white hot San Jose Sharks this Tuesday night when the two Pacific Division foes clash at the HP Pavilion. The game is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.

Ducks Overview

The Ducks are off to a solid 3-1 start after beating Nashville 3-2 in a shootout this past Saturday as 102 home favorites. The total stayed UNDER the 5.5-point line and has now stayed UNDER in its last two games. Other than a 5-0 loss to Vancouver, Anaheim has done a good job putting the puck in the net so far with an average of 3.5 goals a game. The only problem is that it has given-up the same number of goals on defense.

The hottest stick so far for the Ducks has been Daniel Winnik with five goals and one assist. Saku Koivu is tied for the team lead in total points with one goal and five assists and Teemu Selanne is right up there with two goals and three assists. Jonas Hiller has seen the majority of the time in goal but comes into this contest with a less than stellar goals-against-average of 4.00 and a .864 save percentage. Look for Viktor Fasth to possibly get the start after coming up big against the Predators in his NHL debut between the pipes.

Sharks Overview

San Jose has vaulted to the top of the standings with an impressive 5-0 start that includes a goals-per-game average of 4.6 to complement a defense that is holding opponents to an average of just 1.6 goals per game. It has won its last three games at home by a combined score of 13-4 with the last two staying UNDER a total line set at 5.5.

A good chunk of the offensive firepower has come from Patrick Marleau, who leads the team with nine goals, but he has had plenty of help. The Sharks have five other players with at least two goals and a pair of Joes (Thornton and Pavelski) have accounted for a combined total of 18 assists. When you add in the fact that Antti Niemi has stopped 93.3 percent of the shots he has faced for a GAA of 2.01 and you have the makings of one powerful team.

Ducks vs. Sharks Betting Lines and Trends

The NHL odds makers opened the Sharks as -170 favorites, with the matchup's total set at 5.5. Not only do I believe that the total offers great value, but I also believe that NHL bettors have the chance to back the dog for a nice payout.

Let's look at some recent betting trends to decide if this is indeed the way we want to look with our NHL picks tonight.

[gameodds]7/218179/43/us[/gameodds]

The Ducks are 2-5 in their last seven Pacific Division games and 2-8 in their last 10 games following a win. The total has gone OVER in four of their last five road games.

The Sharks are a perfect 5-0 in their last five division games and 12-5 in their last 17 games playing on one day’s rest. The total has gone OVER in three of their last four division games.

Head-to-head in this division rivalry, the road team is 4-1 in the last five meetings and the total has stayed UNDER in five of the last six games. Anaheim has won six of the last seven meetings overall and is 3-0 in its last three trips to San Jose.

Ducks vs. Sharks Game Prediction

As hot as San Jose has been, I am staying away from its prohibitively high money line with a small play on the Ducks. They have enjoyed some recent success in this series and come into this early showdown playing at a fairly high level as well. I also feel that the total of 5.5 is low, and I am offering another free pick on the Over in this situation.

NHL Picks: Anaheim 4    San Jose 3

Year-to-Date NHL Record: 6-1-1