The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins get together on Sunday and the Pens are favored on the NHL betting lines. The Sharks would need a modern day miracle to qualify for the postseason.
The San Jose Sharks Can Win Because…
They’ve started to play well again. Before Thursday, the Sharks had lost four of five and were essentially down in the dumps. At that point, their playoff hopes had been washed away. However, they’ve managed to collect two straight road wins and keep their slim chances alive. Their offense has played well as they’ve scored nine goals in their last two games.
There’s a good chance they keep it going on Sunday as the Pens defense is shorthanded. Already missing Christian Ehrhoff, the Pens lost Kris Letang on Saturday. He had to be hospitalized and is likely to be out a while.
The Sharks have the Pens number as they’ve won 16 of the last 20 meetings between the teams. Marc-Andre Fleury has just two wins in his last six against the Sharks, posting a 3.50 GAA. As for the Sharks, goaltender Antti Niemi is 4-1-0 with a 2.65 GAA against the Penguins. Those are some reasons why you should take the Sharks as a road underdogs in today's NHL odds +135.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Can Win Because…
Both of their stars are healthy. Yes, the Pens have been slumping as Saturdays 3-2 narrow win over Arizona was just their second in 10 games. However, Pittsburgh is a different team when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both in the line. With the two of them, they’ve won 8 of their last 11 games and are 33-19 on the season. That means without them, they are 8-15 overall. Both are going to play Sunday, so that gives the Pens chances a huge boost, earning our NHL picks.
The Sharks have been brutal defensively as they had allowed 23 goals in their last six before Saturday’s 3-2 win at Philadelphia. It probably won’t get any easier on Sunday now that defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Mirco Mueller have been ruled out. Scott Hannan was also bloodied on Saturday and won’t be at 100% if he plays.
The Sharks haven’t been a good team in months as they really started to fade once the calendar flipped to February. Since that time, they have just 10 wins in 25 games. The Pens are the better team, they’re at home and they have more to play for.
This is a tough spot for the Sharks as it’s their final game on a seven-game road trip. Not only is this a back-to-back situation for them, it’s also their third game in four nights. The Sharks have the series history on their side but that’s about it. Even though the Pens have a number of key injuries, the two most important players are playing. With Malkin and Crosby healthy, the Pens should take care of business in this one.
NHL Pick: Penguins -143 at BetOnline