NHL Hockey Betting: San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Hockey Betting:  San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The long, miserable Stanley Cup playoffs without any Canadian teams is finally about to come to an end. On Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the San Jose Sharks up 3-1 with a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup on home ice. Pittsburgh has continually improved throughout the regular season and they just keep getting better. San Jose, meanwhile, looks like a team that has ‘plateaued’ and hit a glass ceiling.

Pittsburgh has flat out dominated the Sharks during this series. It hasn’t looked like it on the scoreboard due in large part to the stellar play of Sharks’ goaltender Martin Jones. It certainly isn’t due to the defense playing in front of him. Jones is looking like he’s about to wear down as well and he’s been the only thing working for San Jose during this series. In Game Four, the Sharks finally held the Penguins to under 30 shots on goal. They’d given up 30+ in all three previous games and 40+ in two of those games. In Game Four, they held the Penguins to 20 shots on goal. The bad news? It didn’t matter as Jones allowed 3 goals on just 20 shots. In all fairness, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The first two goals were tough shots/deflections that few, if any, NHL goaltenders could have stopped. The final goal came late in the game when his teammates were pushing for the equalizer. The collapse started long before this and dates back to the start of this series. Any team that hangs their goalie out to dry by making him face 40+ shots per game will eventually get their comeuppance.

Pittsburgh is just hitting on all cylinders including goalie Matt Murray. He’s still a 22 year old rookie but he’s a 22 year old rookie that just might win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. He’d get my vote, though Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby are also strong candidates. The Sharks have to know their goose is cooked. Teams that play Game Five at home with a 3-1 lead have *never* lost a NHL Stanley Cup Final series (22-0). They’re also a 65% winner in Game Five.


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