Solid NHL Pick for Avalanche vs. Sharks: Take the Road Dog on the Money Line

Joe Catalano

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 1:17 PM GMT

Both the Avalanche & the Sharks aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but neither team will be seeing the post season and you can take that to the bank. That said, we should see a very competitive matchup tonight in the Western Conference battle.

Face-off is set for 10:30 p.m. ET tonight at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The home team get's the nod where NHL betting odds are concerned in a major way as the Sharks are a -185 betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 5.5 goals. This is a bit extreme. Home ice is important, but the Sharks have just 1 more point than the Avalanche this season. We will have to look at and see if the Sharks are good fade material.

 

Berra is Confirmed
The Avalanche have confirmed that Reto Berra will be in net tonight and there's no confirmation of Antti Niemi being starting goalie for the host Sharks tonight. At 3-3-1 with a 2.97 GAA for Berra, I can see why the betting odds would sway in favor of the San Jose Sharks, but I still think that it's a bit extreme. As for Niemi, he's been very beatable in my mind. For the season, Niemi is 29-22-7 with a 2.62 GAA. He's beaten the Avalanche in their only previous meeting, but this game is up for grabs.

Which team will take over the Western Conference?

The Core Three
Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks into this game as a power play beast with 19 power play goals on the season. He had another power play goal on the 28th of March against Philly in a 3-2 shootout win, but has been relatively quiet for being the main source of offense. Pavelski is going to be the guy that puts the pressure on the opposing defense while Joe Thornton is the set up man. 

Thornton has had a storybook career and is not going to look to shoot very often as his 119 shots on goals indicates. That said, Thornton is a huge part of this offense as he  has 62 points in just 72 games. Logan Couture (25 goals, 37 assists) and Pavelski (36 goals, 31 assists) are clearly the Sharks bread and butter when they need someone to come through during a crucial situation. Facing an inexperienced goalie such as Reto Berra, the Sharks should have plenty of offensive opportunities and I don't just expect it to come from their core 3 players.

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Ryan O'Reilly in Beastmode
Everytime I write about Ryan O'Reilly, the man keeps producing and nothing has changed. O'Reilly has scored in 8 consecutive games with a total of 5 goals and 8 assists. In the month of March, O'Reilly has scored a point in every game except for one. This is simply an amazing accomplishment, especially for a guy with just 53 points on the season. There's no reason at all for me to think that O'Reilly won't score again, but will it be enough? That's the question. O'Reilly has the legendary Jerome Iginla on his squad and this is no cake walk for the Sharks.

I'm quite torn here as the Sharks are a slightly better team, but the odds are outlandish, O'Reilly has been a flat out beast, and both goalies are far from being world-beaters. You can't always bet the chalk and expect to win. I'm taking the underdog Avalanche with my NHL picks, and looking for Ryan O'Reilly to score another point in this game.

NHL Pick- Colorado +166 at 5Dimes

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