Vegas Story to End in Western Conference Semifinals vs. Sharks

Monday, April 23, 2018 6:03 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 23, 2018 6:03 PM UTC

The Golden Knights didn't lose to San Jose in regulation in four meetings this season, but NHL handicapper Dana Lane says that doesn’t mean anything heading into the second-round series.

NHL: Sharks-Golden Knights Lookahead

I’m in a tough situation here because I think the San Jose Sharks will win this Western Conference semifinal series, but I’m tip-toeing around because I think the Vegas Golden Knights will win Game 1. That’s the problem with betting series before the playoffs start; you sometimes feel compelled to wager on the team that you told everyone would represent the West in the Stanley Cup Final. In this case I’m on board with the Sharks, but it won’t be easy. The goal for any road team is to split the first two games. If San Jose does that, then they’re on their way to victory. No matter what the Las Vegas blogs like to tell you, this is a step up from the Kings.

The series schedule had not been announced at press time, but it should begin Wednesday or Thursday based on the remaining first-round games. The first two games will be in Vegas, followed by two games in San Jose.

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We're coming for you Vegas!#NightyKnight

— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) April 21, 2018

The series price on the NHL odds board opened at -130 with very little movement at this point, but I anticipate when the first round ends we’ll see more bettors jump on the Golden Knights.

The key to this series is traffic in front of Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was relatively untouched in the series against the Kings. Fleury’s numbers were sensational against Los Angeles with a 0.65 goals-against average to coincide with a .977 save percentage. He’s the fifth goaltender in the NHL expansion era to win all four games of a playoff round at the same time recording a goals-against average of 0.70. Against the Kings almost all the shots were straight on, making it an easy series on Fleury. There were very few times he needed to go side to side to make a save because Los Angeles was never able to get crease position.

We also talk about depth when it comes to the postseason. Vegas has been complemented all season for their four-line depth, but the fact is the Sharks' offensive depth is greater than what Vegas has to offer. Over their last 10 games, San Jose's fourth line of Marcus Sorensen, Eric Fehr, and Melker Karlsson put up four goals and six assists. By comparison, the Knights' fourth line of Tomas Nosek, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Will Carrier has produced no goals and just two assists.

For your NHL picks, when it’s all said and done, the series will go deep but the Sharks will prevail.

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