The Vancouver Canucks drew first blood in the Western Conference Finals, beating the San Jose Sharks 3-2. The Sharks will try to draw level on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena for Game 2, and we have our NHL playoffs picks ready and raring to go for the big time game.
If Antti Niemi has this much work to do for the rest of the playoffs, the Sharks are going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble. San Jose has done everything that it could to keep Niemi’s crease relatively clean in the playoffs, but against the Canucks in Game 1, there was just a ton of action on the wrong end of the ice. The defense gave up a stunning 38 shots on net, including at least 11 whacks on target in all three periods of hockey. The offense only reached that point once in three periods, and even that period, it was outshot 14-12. The good news though, is that we were right about the emergence of Patrick Marleau. Marleau scored what proved to be the difference making goal in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings last round, and now, he came up with the go ahead goal in the second period on the power play in Game 1 here in the Western Conference Finals. Getting on the man advantage would be a big help for San Jose. It only had one power play in Game 1, though it did capitalize on that man advantage thanks to Marleau.
Daniel Sedin has only scored one goal since April 24th. Normally speaking, that would be a recipe for disaster for the Canucks. However, his brother, Henrik Sedin, more than picked up the slack on Sunday night, accounting for a goal and an assist in the decisive third period to take a 2-1 deficit and turn it into a 3-2 win to take early control of the series. The Canucks have to avoid complacency, though. They took 1-0 series leads against both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators. Those series went seven games and six games respectively. Roberto Luongo did his job, stopping 27-of-29 shots in Game 1, and he was more than good enough for his ninth win of the postseason. Believe it or not, it was the first time that Luongo won a game in the conference finals in his career, as this is the first time that Vancouver has even been to this juncture since 1994. Home ice advantage has been crucial to the Canucks for most of the year, but here in the playoffs, things haven’t been remarkable. Both the Blackhawks and the Predators stole games here at Rogers Arena, as the hosts are only 6-3 to show for their work.
San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks Pick: This is why we just know that we are going to keep going back to the well with the Sharks in this series. Again, we said at the outset that we weren’t so sure that San Jose was winning Game 1, but we know that we had a great set of NHL odds on our side. We’ll say the same again in Game 2. Sharks +145.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.