NHL Picks: Ottawa Senators vs. San Jose Sharks

David Lawrence

Saturday, October 12, 2013 12:39 PM UTC

Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 12:39 PM UTC

The Ottawa Senators must be about ready to play on their home ice but they’re not finished their six-game road trip to start the season just yet.

On Saturday night, they’re away for the fifth straight game, this time in San Jose. Meanwhile, the Sharks have been at home for three of their first four games, all of which they have won rather handily. 

The Sharks have owned the Senators over their last five matchups, which have been rare (five since 2008). San Jose has won four of those five matchups, with four coming in over the posted total. However, the Senators won their last trip to San Jose, a 4-1 victory way back in January of 2012, so that should give them a little bit of encouragement.

Don't forget to check out SBR's NHL Picks of the Day 

The Ottawa Senators can win because…

The Sens have dropped two straight since a 1-0 win in their first game of the season at Buffalo, but they should take into account that both losses have come in overtime. With a couple of breaks, they could be easily undefeated. Kyle Turris is continuing to improve with four points in three games while Bobby Ryan looks comfortable with his new team, notching a goal and three points overall so far. They should also have captain Jason Spezza back after he sat out a 4-3 loss in Los Angeles on Wednesday due to a groin injury.

Ottawa also has a competent goalie in Craig Anderson, who has a .927 save percentage in three games despite a 2.59 GAA, which isn’t all that bad. He can keep the Senators in games while they are sorting their offense out. And don’t forget about head coach Paul MacLean, the reigning Jack Adams winner. He always keeps the Senators in it with his ability to make adjustments on the fly as matchups present themselves. 

The San Jose Sharks can win because… 

The San Jose offense has been rolling to start the season, racking up 21 goals in four games with almost half coming in a 9-2 romp over the New York Rangers. Six have come from rookie Tomas Hertl, who netted four against the Rangers and wrapped it up with a beautiful between-the-legs goal that some have deemed disrespectful. People who make their sports picks know that the jury is still out on whether or not Hertl is for real (and if he is healthy after taking a headshot from Vancouver’s Alex Edler in their second 4-1 win of the season over the Canucks on Thursday), but the Sharks have plenty of firepower if he can’t continue his hot streak. Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton (owner of the NHL’s quote of the season to date, in reference to Hertl’s four-goal game) all have four points or more. 

This takes pressure off goalie Antti Niemi, who has a 1.25 GAA along with a .945 save percentage and has played all 240 minutes so far this season. Obviously, the Sharks can’t keep up this pace of scoring goals, but Niemi is one of the more underrated goalies in the league and can steal a game or two if the Sharks can’t score. 


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Outlook & Pick

Those who make their NHL picks know that the general sentiment here is that both teams have stellar goaltending. However, the Sharks have better offense and are at home. That should be the difference.

Laying the juice on the NHL odds is a bit too much, so take the Sharks on the puck line.

NHL Free Pick: Sharks -1.5 +177 

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