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Sharks vs. Canucks Game 1 NHL Playoff Picks | Preview

Game 1 Free Playoff Predictions: San Jose Sharks vs Vancouver Canucks


San Jose Sharks (48-25-9) at Vancouver Canucks (54-19-9)
Date/Time: Sunday, May 15, 2011, 8:05 PM ET
Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia
Broadcast: VERSUS (HD), CBC (HD), RDS (HD)
Sharks vs. Canucks Betting Lines from Bodog.com
Spread: Canucks -1.5(+180)
Moneyline: Sharks +150: Canucks -170
Over/Under: 5.5 goals

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Game 1 of the Western Conference final kicks off on Sunday night with the well rested Vancouver Canucks hosting the San Jose Sharks in a battle of #1 and #2 seeds. Both teams have a ton to prove and will be looking for a good start in order to take some of the immense pressure off. If the regular season series is any indication of what is to come, Game 1 should be a dandy.

The San Jose Sharks enter Game 1 with a lot of confidence but not necessarily an abundance of momentum. Sure they snapped a three game losing streak with their Game 7 win over the Detroit Red Wings but they were not exactly dominant in their win. If not for an incredible 38 save performance by Antti Niemi in Game 7 we would likely be talking about the Detroit Red Wings in the West final.

The Sharks have one of the deepest forward corps. in the playoffs. Two and a half lines have proven dangerous with Ryan Clowe, Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture leading the way. They have been superb but if San Jose is to win Game 1 Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau (a combined three goals so far in the playoffs) will have to play a much bigger role.

The Sharks have been blessed with some good goaltending in the playoffs – a far cry from years past. Antti Niemi registered a 2.36 goals against average and a .931 save percentage against Detroit and was the difference in the deciding game of the series. He arrives in the Final playing his best hockey of the season.

The Vancouver Canucks are nearly a mirror image of the Sharks – secondary players are doing the damage offensively and their goaltending has been incredible. However, Vancouver has enjoyed two things that should give them an advantage in Game 1 of the Western Conference final – an extra three days off and home ice advantage.

Offense will be key in Game 1 for the Canucks. Obviously there are no worries about Ryan Kesler who was in on 11 of Vancouver’s 14 goals in the Nashville series (five goals and three assists) but there certainly is some concern about the Sedins who combined for just seven points and a minus ten in their last series. The good news for Vancouver, the Sedins and their offense is that they won’t have to contend with Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber or Ryan Suter – needless to say, there should be more room to roam than they have become accustomed to.

Roberto Luongo is absolutely on top of his game. It seems that the only way to beat him is from behind the net! He had a 1.63 goals against average and a .933 goals against average against Nashville and is once again looking like the highest paid player in the NHL.

NHL Betting Trends:
Over is 12-3-2 in SJ last 17 road games.
SJ are 25-9 in their last 34 games following a win.
Over is 11-4-2 in SJ last 17 games following a win.
Under is 8-1-1 in VAN last 10 Sun. games.
VAN are 13-3 in their last 16 vs. Pacific.
Under is 8-2-1 in VAN last 11 home games.
SJ are 11-5 in the last 16 meetings.

Betting Prediction: The Vancouver Canucks are rested, they are motivated and most importantly, they appear to be having some fun. A raucous home crowd will greet them in Game 1 and I can’t see the Canucks letting them down. The fact of the matter is that Vancouver has looked every bit the Western Conference champions in their last seven games while the Sharks have looked like a second place team. The Sharks may get it going at some point in the series but not in Game 1.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks -170 and the Over – 5.5 goals

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