Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
The Western Conference Final continues as the San Jose Sharks take on the St. Louis Blues tonight. Game 2 expects to feature even more of a nasty edge to it than Game 1 did.
Our series preview is right here.
As always, the goalies are essential when it comes to making a prediction. They are the last line of defense after all. Game 1 showed that Martin Jones was basically able to keep things together long enough while nothing went right for Jordan Binnington. It pretty much was the second time this postseason, one looked at Binnington and could say his performance was well below average. He yielded five goals on 24 shots – and one goal on the penalty kill in four opportunities.
Can Jordan Binnington play the big points of the game better? Certainly, he was able to against Dallas in Round 2 and Winnipeg late in Round 1. The underlying numbers suggest the goalie can rise to the occasion.
With the way both goalies are playing, this could be an intriguing series. Goals could come in bunches and then dry up rapidly. At 5 on 5, San Jose’s transition game gave St. Louis immense fits in Game 1. However, the Blues had more high danger scoring chances, more scoring chances, and more shots on net.
Projected shots are expected to be right around 30 shots for St. Louis and a hair less for San Jose. It comes down to which goalie has a better start on Monday night. Jones stopped 28 of 31 shots on Saturday and the third-period goal was kind of an odd one.
Strength vs Strength:
Alas, this one is important. The Logan Couture-Timo Meier duo was able to strike on their transitional opportunities when needed. The results were both having two goals and an assist each. It basically changed the dynamic of the game. One thing of note is that score effects took over for the third period of this contest. That tilted some of the numbers in the Blues’ favor.
One of the biggest problems St. Louis had was that they controlled play for good stretches then it seemed every big mistake wound up in the back of the net. San Jose was able to attack the Vladimir Tarasenko line enough and able to catch Alex Pietrangelo in quite a few bad situations to create odd-man rushes. St. Louis must fix those problems and how their third line plays in transition. The Blues were getting caught too often.
The third line for both teams will be something to look at on Monday. San Jose appears to be going with the same lineup as they did for Game 1 while St. Louis might make a few adjustments. One of those may be putting Colton Parayko on the power play and moving Alex Pietrangelo around a bit because the strength on strength matchup against Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson did not work.
Game 2 Picks:
Our betting rationale is mixed for this game. The problem is San Jose played well enough in Game 1 but again St. Louis controlled more segments of the game than the Sharks. Furthermore, San Jose has lost both of their Game 2’s this postseason at home – a dud against Vegas and a late flop versus Colorado.
Expectations dictate that the teams should go over 5.5 goals again. The toughest part of this series is figuring when St. Louis’s defense combines with its goaltending to shut things down. Even projections suggest because of San Jose’s home woes in Game 2 and St. Louis’s ability to slow things down, the Blues-Sharks game could be a 50-50 matchup.
San Jose again must score first to keep the pressure on St. Louis enough in order to force mistakes. That is what happened in Game 1 as the Blues never could quite take a lead. If St. Louis cannot stop San Jose’s power game, this could be a short series. The Blues’ special teams also must make an appearance at some juncture.
1u – SJS Sharks MoneyLine @ -133
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +100
By Chris Wassel