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The Sharks and Golden Knights’ second round series has been a back-and-forth affair thus far. The teams have split both their initial stints in Vegas and San Jose, and now they’ll head back to Sin City for a Game 5 with the series deadlocked at 2-2. The Sharks played their best game of the series in Game 4, shutting out the Golden Knights 4-0.

The Golden Knights are trying to make rivals all along the West Coast, and the Sharks are next on the list. The Golden Knights won the season series 3-0-1 against the Sharks, but these Sharks look faster and better than they have all season.

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NHL Playoffs odds

Here’s a look at each team’s projected odds to advance via SportsLine, not to mention their odds to win not only their conference, but also the Stanley Cup.    

Matchup breakdown

Offense

We acknowledged coming in that these two teams are both absolutely outstanding offensively, and it still feels like the Sharks are underrated heading into the first series. The center depth of San Jose is insane, with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture looking incredible up front and Joe Thornton looking like he may return this series. Evander Kane scored three goals in his first playoff series (including two in his first game) and notched an assist. The Golden Knights, once again, fielded a dominant first line of Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson, but the second line of James Neal, Alex Tuch and Erik Haula did a lot of the damage against the Kings with five points, while the first line had seven. This series should double as a speed-skating match, and whoever skates fastest and controls the puck between the blue lines while utilizing their third lines will get the edge.

EDGE: Draw

Defense

The Sharks were fantastic defensively, and Brent Burns was excellent in the Sharks’ four games against the Golden Knights in the head-to-head, scoring five points. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was stellar against the Ducks, and Burns’ partner-in-crime Paul Martin is half of one of the best first blue-line pairs in hockey, in spite of a relatively down year. Vlasic had 18 blocks for the Sharks, the most of any first-round player to date, and Justin Braun had 10 alongside his second pair partner. The Knights’ first pair of Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt is very good, then there’s a drop-off with Deryk Engelland on the left side despite Shea Theodore being solid on the right. It’s easy to look at the Kings series and overreact, but the drop-off from the Kings’ first to second lines is outrageously steep, and the second line benefited from that.

EDGE: Sharks

Goaltending

Playoff Marc-Andre Fleury and Playoff Martin Jones both demanded some serious respect in their first series. Fleury, of course, gave up just three goals in four games and had two shutouts with 127 saves on 130 shots for a .977 save percentage. What he did in the first round was astounding, and Fleury deserves a lot of credit not just for this series, but for the season he’s putting together. Jones, meanwhile, entered this series with a .930 postseason career save percentage, and he put up .970 against the Ducks in four games in easily the best series of his career. Both goalies will have their work cut out for them, but Fleury makes the Knights better as a team, so he gets the edge by a hair.

EDGE: Golden Knights

Special teams

The Golden Knights killed an outstanding 92.3 percent of penalties against the Kings, leading all playoff teams in Round 1, after ranking 10th in the NHL at 81.4 percent during the regular season. The Sharks, meanwhile, killed 83.3 percent against the Ducks, tied with the Lightning for fifth in the playoffs. Offensively, however, the story was very different. The Sharks won’t get as many opportunities as they did against the Ducks, but even so the power play unit of Pavelski, Couture, Burns, Kevin Labanc and Tomas Hertl was merciless against Anaheim. The Sharks were second in the NHL in the regular season in penalty kill percentage as well, at 84.8 percent. The Golden Knights struggled to score against the Kings’ PK unit. They won’t find things coming much easier against the Sharks.

EDGE: Sharks

Predictions

Skiver: This has all of the hallmarks of an overreaction after how the Sharks dismantled the Ducks, especially because I doubt the Sharks end up with another 20-12 penalty advantage, but the way Evander Kane stepped up is a big part of this pick. The Sharks are a far more dynamic offensive team than the Kings, so I’m taking that series with a grain of salt, and I think their defense can at least stymie the aggressive Golden Knights attack. Sharks in 7

Benjamin: I love me some Evander Kane, and Martin Jones came up big for the Sharks in the first round. But Vegas is more well-rounded, Marc-Andre Fleury has at least one more great series in him, and it also just feels wrong to go against the storybook team of the year. Golden Knights in 6

Blackburn: The regular season numbers say the Sharks are outmatched here, especially on the offensive side. However, there are some lingering questions heading into the series. Will the Knights’ offense, which struggled against the Kings’ stingy D, return to regular season form? Can the Sharks handle (and counter) their speedy attack? How much will Joe Thornton’s potential return impact the series? Which red-hot goaltender cools off more? Maybe it’s crazy to keep doubting the Golden Knights at this point, but the Sharks are streaky and I just have a gut feeling they’ll continue to be the good kind of streaky. Sharks in 6.

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