NHL Game Preview and Pick- San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues
Year-to-Date NHL Record: 16-5-2
This game is slated to get underway at 5:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.
It has been a tale of two teams when it comes to San Jose this season. It reeled-off seven straight wins to start things off before going winless in its next seven. The Sharks snapped the skid with a 2-1 victory over St. Louis this past Tuesday as 106 road underdogs. They are now 8-4-3 on the year with the total staying UNDER in eight of their last 10 games.
The biggest problem with this team as of late is a major power shortage on offense. After the fast start, the Sharks have managed to score just 10 goals in their last eight games. Patrick Marleau has really cooled off. He leads the team with 10 goals but has only scored once in his last 10 games. Fortunately, Antti Niemi has remained rock-solid in goal with a 1.86 goals-against-average and a save percentage of .933. All indications point towards him getting the start on Friday night.
Very little has gone wrong for Chicago in its 13-0-3 start that has it in first place in the Western Conference with a league-high 29 points. The Blackhawks are getting it done on both ends of the ice with a goals-per-game average of 3.3 to complement a 1.9 GAA. Both of these are ranked second in the league.
The problem heading into this matchup is the health of forward Marian Hossa and goalie Corey Crawford, who both remain questionable at this time. Hossa is the team’s second-leading goal scorer to Patrick Kane and Crawford has spent the majority of the time between the pipes with a stellar 1.65 GAA but has missed the last three games. The Blackhawks do have a solid back-up between the pipes in Ray Emery, who comes in with a save percentage of .925 and a 2.27 GAA in six previous appearances this season.
Sharks vs. Blackhawks Betting Lines and Trends
The Sharks have been opened by BetOnline has 119 road underdogs on the money line while Chicago is a 131 NHL odds favorite at home. The total for this game has been set at 5.
The Sharks are just 1-9 in their last 10 games against the Central Division but 6-1 in their last seven games following a win. The total has stayed under in four of their last five road games.
The Blackhawks are 7-1 in their last eight games against the Pacific Division and 5-1 in their last six games against a team with a winning record. The total has stayed under in seven of their last nine games at home.
Head-to-head in this series, the home team in this series is 6-1 in the last seven meetings and the total is an even 3-3 in the last six games. In two previous meetings this season, Chicago won 5-3 as a slight 101 road favorite and just this past Friday it rolled to a 4-1 victory as a133 favorite at home.
Sharks vs. Blackhawks
The Blackhawks’ winning streak cannot go on forever and with some major injury concerns on both ends of the ice it presents the perfect opportunity to go against them. The Sharks remain one of the better teams in the West and smell the blood in the water heading into this showdown, especially after coming up short in the first two meetings this season making them the free NHL pick in this contest.
Free NHL Picks: Sharks 3 - Blackhawks 2 (lines provided by BetOnline)