Knights Won't Escape Shark Tank with Lead in West Semifinals

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 5:31 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 1, 2018 5:31 PM UTC

San Jose owns a sparkling 21-5 record in their last 26 games against division opponents. That's not good news for Vegas despite its 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series. 

NHL Wednesday: Golden Knights vs. SharksFree NHL Pick: Sharks MLBest Line Offered: Heritage

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Finally, I can back the Sharks and be true to my series prediction of San Jose in 7. Truth is, I bet the Golden Knights in the first three games of the series, but of course people never forget -- and rightfully so -- what you predicted. So, as we said in my last write-up, it leaves one in a bad spot. On to Game 4 on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBC Sports Network). The Knights, up 2-1 after Monday's 4-3 overtime victory, can prove me wrong by winning again and leaving town with the series lead.

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There wouldn’t have even been an overtime without this 💪 effort by Hertl.

— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) May 1, 2018

The public seems to agree with my assessment that the Sharks will tie this series, as 66% of the early money-line wagers back San Jose. Fortunately for most bettors, that doesn’t mean we’re getting a bad number because the “professional” bettors are still on the Knights, which isn’t all that surprising considering most of them are streak bettors. On the NHL odds board you can find the Sharks at a reasonable -125, but mostly it’s holding steady around the opening line of -130.

The line-makers refuse to make an adjustment on the "total" as they opened Game 4 at 5.5 again, shaded to the "under" again. We’ve played three straight "overs" and it hasn’t been close, yet they still offer a plus price on the "over" and have done so for every game. Naturally, the public is jumping on the "over" again. Perhaps they’ll learn after Wednesday's game.

The Sharks have shown they can come back after defeats. In fact, they adjusted nicely after a 7-0 embarrassment in Game 1, so there is no reason to think they won’t get the series-tying win at home. They’ve also shown they have the ability to come back after being down two goals, which they did in Games 2 and 3. Despite all that moxie, Game 4 is essentially a Game 7 because a loss would mean a two-game deficit for the Sharks with two of the next three in Vegas.

The Sharks don’t need to change too much from Monday's performance. Unlike Game 1 and parts of Game 2, they battled hard in back and in front of Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. This hasn’t been a series where Fleury hasn’t been challenged, like you could make a case for in the Knights' first-round series against the Kings. The Sharks' physical play in the corners has led to scoring chances or Vegas penalties in a number of instances. The Sharks' first goal Monday resulted from winning a battle down low. If the Sharks continue to create those chances, they’ll have their scoring opportunities. Then the question will be, can they beat Fleury enough times? I think they can, at least in Game 4, so with my NHL picks I'm backing the home team.

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