Power-Play Woes Should Keep Blues-Sharks Matchup Low Scoring

blues sharks

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 3:35 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018 3:35 PM UTC

Few teams are playing worse in the NHL the past few weeks than St. Louis, and those woes seem likely to continue when they visit San Jose on Thursday night (10:30 ET).

St. Louis Blues (75 points) at San Jose Sharks (79 points)Free NHL Pick: Under 5.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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The latest-starting game Thursday on a very busy NHL schedule is Blues-Sharks with a 10:30 p.m. ET puck drop – two teams with very different motivations the rest of the season.

This is the Blues’ only trip to San Jose. The Sharks will return to St. Louis on March 27. San Jose lost there on Feb. 20, 3-2. All five goals were scored in the second period. Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker each scored for San Jose, and Martin Jones had 31 saves. Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Blues, with Carter Hutton stopping 20 shots. Tarasenko has 10 points in his last nine games (four goals, six assists) against the Sharks.

The Blues had swept the three-game season series last year, outscoring the Sharks 11-3 overall, and had won four straight against San Jose. Previously against the Sharks, Hutton had been 4-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, a .968 save percentage and two shutouts in five career starts.

The road team has won five of the past seven in the series.

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Singing The Blues

If you aren’t fading the St. Louis Blues right now in your NHL betting, then you aren’t paying attention. The Blues have the fourth longest playoff appearance streak as they have not missed the postseason since the 2010-11 season, but that’s going to end.

The team has one victory since Feb. 10 and essentially waived the white flag for chasing a playoff spot at the Feb. 26 trade deadline by shipping out winger Paul Stastny to Winnipeg for a conditional first-round pick for Stastny in 2018, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 and prospect Erik Foley. Even Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he never would have envisioned his team being a seller even two weeks prior, but this slump changed his agenda. By most accounts, Armstrong did very well in the deal, especially considering Stastny – still fourth on the Blues in scoring with 40 points -- is set for free agency this summer.

The reasons to keep betting against St. Louis are growing as now winger Scottie Upshall and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester are likely done for the season due to lower-body injuries. Upshall has seven goals and 11 assists and is minus-2 in 61 games. Bouwmeester used to be one of the best blueliners around, but he has been limited to only 35 games this year with seven points and a plus-5 rating. At 34, he likely has played his final game in a St. Louis uniform. Bouwmeester does have a year at $5.4 million left on his deal, but the Blues will be shopping him or perhaps could buy him out.

St. Louis will be well-rested here as it last played Saturday in Dallas and lost 3-2 in overtime. That was when Upshall and Bouwmeester were injured. One bright spot this year for St. Louis has been Hutton, who leads the league in GAA (2.02) and save percentage (.934). The Blues are a good defensive team but can’t score much.

San Jose is in a dogfight with the Ducks and Kings to finish second in the Pacific Division behind Vegas and keep home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Now is a good time for the Sharks to make hay because they are on a six-game homestand, their longest of the season. They are 2-1 on it following a 4-2 loss to Columbus on Sunday.

One bright spot there was Evander Kane scoring his first goal since joining the Sharks via trade from Buffalo. Jones allowed three goals on 11 shots before being pulled early in the second period, and San Jose went a 12th straight game without a power-play goal. San Jose’s last power play goal came Feb. 8 against the Golden Knights. Despite that, the Sharks still rank ninth on the power play. They are No. 1 on the penalty kill.

This feels like an easy ‘under’ call for a Thursday NHL pick. It’s two good goalies (whether it’s Jones or Aaron Dell for San Jose) and two punchless power plays (Blues are 29th and Sharks can’t buy a man-advantage goal right now). The ‘under’ is 7-3 in the Blues’ past 10 on the road and 4-1 in San Jose’s previous five when scoring two goals or fewer in the previous game.

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