Free Hockey Picks: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks Game 2 Preview 4/16/11
The San Jose Sharks avoided the embarrassment of falling down 0-1 in their best of seven series on Thursday night. Now, they are going to try to put a stranglehold on their Western Conference Quarterfinals tie in Stanley Cup betting action against the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion on Saturday.
The Kings really stood in there and took the best shots of the Sharks in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoff betting run, but they know if those shots keep coming like this, they really don’t stand much of a chance in this series. Jonathan Quick did everything but stand on his head to try to defend his own crease, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Quick faced a whopping 45 shots in right around 75 minutes of ice time on Thursday, and he stopped 42 of those shots. The save percentage was great at .933, but these numbers just aren’t going to cut it on a team that badly, badly needs to get some more offense going. To make matters worse for a team that already doesn’t have Anze Kopitar for the foreseeable future, Jarret Stoll has been suspended for Game 2 for a hit that he issued in Game 1. Stoll wasn’t one of the goal scorers in Game 1, but now, there is even more pressure on the likes of Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth, Dustin Brown, and Dustin Penner to step up and bring their A game to the table to survive the Shark Tank.
Not to say that the goal is nearly accomplished yet, but it already seems like Antti Niemi is paying dividends. He was acquired in the offseason via free agency after essentially being cast away by the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Sharks graciously swooped him up. They had just lost Evgeni Nabakov back to his homeland in Russia, and they knew that they had to find some sort of replacement for him. Signing Antero Niittymaki was great, but in Niemi, San Jose now had a Stanley Cup winning goalie. Think that doesn’t matter? Niemi was a pillar in the posts in Game 1, and though he did allow two goals, he kept the light behind him off during the OT period in spite of the fact that he faced nine shots. The Sharks’ big guns also flexed their muscles in the first game of this best of seven series. Dany Heatley and Logan Couture scored in regulation, while Joe Pavelski had the big blast in OT that sent the fans at the HP Pavilion home happy. Ryan Clowe had three assists. If these men can get into the mix on a regular basis and the Sharks start getting some production out of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, they’re going to be a real pain to try to oust from the playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks Pick: We do think that San Jose is winning this series, and we do think that it is ultimately happening relatively easily. However, there is just no way that we can lay -200 on the NHL odds in a game against Quick. There’s a reason that he is probably going to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this year. He just might have the goods to make the Kings +180 a winning ticket in Game 2.