NHL Hockey Betting: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks

NHL Hockey Betting:  Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks&h=235&w=320&zc=1

On paper, this should be a pretty straightforward series between two good Pacific Division teams. Instead, it’s a study in sports psychology. The Los Angeles Kings are down 2-0 to the San Jose Sharks after losing the first two games of the series on their home ice at the Staples Center. This should be a concern in most situations but for the Kings it might be what they expected.

The San Jose Sharks have one of the strangest, most dysfunctional home/road breakdowns of any team I’ve ever seen in any sport. Away from home, the Sharks are a monster. They finished the regular season with the best road record in the NHL at 28-10-3. That’s one game better than the President’s Cup champion Washington Capitals. At home, however, they play like a lottery team. The Sharks finished 18-20-3 at the SAP Center. They lost more home games in regulation than Toronto or Buffalo, two teams that are nowhere near the playoffs. Only four teams had fewer points at home than San Jose. Head coach Peter DeBoer downplays the home struggles, noting correctly that the team played well in big games at the SAP Center while admitting that they lost to teams they shouldn’t have.

That’s the first major psychological issue for the Sharks and probably the most daunting at this point. They’ve got a long history of early playoff exits which could be another ‘monkey on their back’. It’s tough to understand on any logical level how San Jose can be so good away from home and play like a lottery team on their own ice. To be fair, they did get better at home throughout the season. San Jose started the year 5-12-0 at home but went 13-8-3 after January 9th. They beat the Kings at home the last time they played them. During the stretch run they won games at home against the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. One note of concern–San Jose went 1-8-1 in their first game home after road trips of 2+ games during the regular season.

Another factor worth noting–the Kings have been excellent for several years after losing 3 or more consecutive games. In that situation they’re 3-0 this year, 17-8 in the last three seasons. The Kings will come hard tonight and look like the play regardless of the Sharks’ home record.


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