See who has earned our NHL pick in this West Coast battle as the Nashville Predators face a hungry San Jose Sharks team that's on the outside, looking in where the playoffs are concerned.
Ice time is set for 10:30 pm ET at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. Odds makers have given the Sharks some respect as the Sharks are listed at -110 odds and the total for the game is 5 goals. Even though they possess 91 points on the season, the Predators have done little to help themselves lately as they're just 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. This game is huge for both team as it reflects in the betting odds.
Sharks Are Ready!
The goalie matchup is pivotal when deciding on the NHL picks for this game and the while the Predators have yet to confirm that Pekka Rinne will be in net, the Sharks have confirmed that Antti Niemi will be their goaltender tonight.
While Niemi has been just an average goalie this season, he's coming off of a monster performance against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. In this game, Niemi, swept aside 39 shots in a 2-1 shootout win for San Jose. This should definitely give the Sharks, who are in a must win situation, some added confidence and Niemi will be ready to go.
After 4 consecutive losses, Rinne came back like a champ against the Arizona Coyotes in a 2-1 overtime win Normally, I would give Rinne the advantage with a record of 36-13-3 and a 2.11 GAA, but one game isn't enough to convince me and desperation makes teams better. Expect a tight battle between two teams that are hungry for two different reasons and both have two more than capable goaltenders in Rinne and Niemi.
5 Solid Forms Of Production
They come in different forms, where the Sharks roster is concerned, there's no other way to phrase it. The Sharks have an unselfish bunch of players that produce as 4 players have 33 assists or more and the one player that I left off of the list is center, Joe Pavelski.
For the season, Pavelski leads the Sharks with 32 goals and 29 assists. He's a killer on the power play with a team leading 17 power play goals. Pavelski isn't afraid to mix it up and is a +13 for the season.
In his last 5 games, Pavelski has 1 goal and 4 assists and has 2 assists in 2 games against the Predators. Expect Pavelski to be a major factor if the Sharks are to have any type of late season run.
Not far behind Pavelski are defenseman Brent Burns and veteran Joe Thornton. At this point in the season, Burns is good for about an assist per game while keeping pressure on the opposing goalie. This is a tireless player.
As for Thornton, I remember him getting drafted and knew that greatness was in his future. 1251 points later, Thornton is still going strong as the 2nd leading scorer on the Sharks and a great set up man. In 2 games against the Predators, Thornton has 1 goal and 1 assist and should play an active role in this game.
I don't mean to slight the better team who's top 16 players that have played 40 games or more, are all in the positive column (plus/minus ratio) and by a wide margain.
At just 20 years old, Filip Forsberg is 2nd in points on the Predators and the top goal-getter at 21 goals and 32 assists. Forsberg has been in a drought as of late with just 1 point in his last 5 games, but centerman Mike Ribiero ( 13 goals, 41 assists) and Colin Wilson (20 goals, 20 assists) are there to support the cause. The Predators don't have a real go-to guy and they live off of goalie play. The pressure will be on Pekka Rinne to deliver.
Nashville has been slumping lately and with these NHL odds and the way that Niemi has ben playing, I like San Jose in this game. Take the Sharks as your betting pick.
NHL Pick- San Jose -105 at Bovada