Free NHL Hockey Prediction: Sharks vs. Kings Odds
Looking for San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings free hockey plays? NHL betting sees the Sharks taking on the Kings on Thursday April 14th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Cappers Picks provides complimentary expert handicapping picks on all NHL Hockey matchups all season long so stay tuned for more FREE daily NHL hockey predictions.
(46-30-6) San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings (48-28-6)
Stanley Cup Playoffs – Game 1
Date: Thursday, April 14th
Time: 10:30 PM (EST)
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA.
NHL Hockey Moneyline Odds: Kings -145
NHL Hockey Puck Line Odds: OFF
NHL Betting Total: OFF
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There is plenty of history and bad blood in this Western Conference first round playoff match-up.
Two seasons ago, the Sharks went up three games to none in a series that Los Angeles clawed back to win four straight and despatch San Jose.
It’s taken the Sharks a long time to bounce back from that collective mental trauma, but the 2015-16 Sharks look pretty good, led by veteran Joe Thornton and multi-talented blueliner Brent Burns.
Can San Jose’s goaltending hold up well enough to finally slay its longtime in-state rival?
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have long had, and continue to have, a solid core built around Thornton, Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, grizzled vet Patrick Marleau and reliable D-man Marc-Eduoard Vlasic.
The Sharks are similar to fellow Western team the St. Louis Blues in that they usually always look good on paper and in the regular season, but it somehow doesn’t translate in hockey’s second season.
That narrative has to eventually flip for the teal-and-black from Silicon Valley.
San Jose’s goaltending will go far to determining the result. The Sharks’s main guy this year was L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick’s former understudy, Martin Jones. He had a really good campaign, winning 37 games and sporting a 2.27 goals-against average.
He will get the nod despite the recent stellar play of recently-acquired James Reimer, a classy pro long mired in the dumpster fire that was the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise.
He’s put up some recent shutouts and that likely means that while Jones will continue to be the top dog, the leash won’t be too long if he falters.
But if that happens, it may be too late.
For success, the Sharks must allow Jumbo Joe’s superior playmaking ability to shine, get the power-play unit sparked with Burns, an offensive dynamo from the blue line, and top scorer Pavelski, and utilize their forward depth to get scoring chances.
The health of Vlasic is important too, as he is dinged up entering the postseason. Provided the goaltending can be good enough – the Sharks have no one at Quick’s level (Jones was his backup, after all) – it’s not out of the question this time around.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are a model of consistency in the Western Conference, and they are what a talented but unsatisfied club like San Jose aspires to be.
The foundation of Anze Kopitar, Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty and aforementioned goalie Quick is eminently built for Stanley Cup success, as proven by L.A’s Cup wins in 2012 and ‘14.
Head coach Darryl Sutter is like the Veteran Player Whisperer, as we’ve seen resurgences from players like Justin Williams, Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter and even Vincent Lecavalier, who looked all but put-out-to-pasture by the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Kings aren’t just a bunch of geezers, either. Tanner Pearson is a strong piece and Tyler Toffoli is an especially great player, becoming a premier scorer in the NHL with 31 goals this year.
His scoring punch combined with Carter’s touch for the net provides a good chunk of L.A’s offense.
Yet, the Kings don’t have as many scorers as the Sharks, and the SoCal skaters are not immune to offensive slumps. It helps having Quick – maybe the best goalie in the NHL not named Carey Price – between the pipes for when the goals dry up.
The Kings are the favorite in this series, and for good reason. San Jose still might be smarting from that tremendous psychological blow in 2014 at the hands of these Kings, the club that went on to win that Stanley Cup.
The rosters are largely intact from that massive collapse.
NHL Hockey Handicapping Trends
- Sharks are 3-1-1 in the season series against the Kings
- SJ are 25-10 in their last 35 road games.
- Kings are 1-4 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Sharks are 14-3 in their last 17 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Sharks are 9-2 in their last 11 vs. a team with a winning record.
Free San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings NHL Hockey Prediction
Of course both of these teams will be motivated, there’s nothing like playoff hockey.
Yet, I believe that “the wolf climbing the hill is hungrier than the wolf on top”. Los Angeles has two Cup wins in the past four seasons, while the Sharks have gotten oh-so-close, but have never gotten over the hump.
I expect San Jose to come out with more jump and play with a higher “compete level” (gosh that’s a tired phrase, thanks Brian Burke) in Game 1, even in the road barn.
Expect Burns to fire a clapper that finds the mesh.
4* Free NHL Betting Pick: Sharks ML.
Almost no one is talking about the Sharks as a serious Cup contender this year, with the dominance of the Kings and Ducks in the West, the complete dominance of Washington and how hot Pittsburgh has been lately.
But you know what?
The Sharks are well-balanced and, if Jones or the combination of Jones and Reimer (goalie-by-committee usually a disaster in the playoffs, but you never know) can put up the same stats they did in the regular season, I like the Sharks’s chance of raising Lord Stanley’s mug just as much as anyone else’s.
At the very least, expect a physical series, with the combination of the history and a lot of big, talented bodies flying around.
NHL Free Game 1 Score Prediction: San Jose 3 – Los Angeles 2
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