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2011 Stanley Cup Playoff Picks – Sharks vs. Canucks

NHL Playoff Betting – Sharks vs Canucks Round 3 Series Preview & Pick – Western Conference Finals


2011 WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS | No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 2 San Jose Sharks

Playoff Schedule:
Game 1: Sunday, May 15, 8 p.m. at Vancouver. TV: CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Game 2: Wednesday, May 18, 9 p.m. at Vancouver. TV: CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Game 3: Friday, May 20, 9 p.m. at San Jose. TV: CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Game 4: Sunday, May 22, 3 p.m. at San Jose. TV: CBC, RDS, NBC
*Game 5: Tuesday, May 24, 9 p.m. at Vancouver. TV: CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Game 6: Thursday, May 26, 9 p.m. at San Jose. TV: CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Game 7: Saturday, May 28, 8 p.m. at Vancouver. TV: CBC, RDS, VERSUS

Odds to win the Series: Sharks +135: Canucks -155
Odds to win the Stanley Cup: Canucks 160: Sharks +250

Well, it’s finally here – the Western Conference matchup to determine which team from the West will play for Lord Stanley`s Cup. This season it pits two of the bigger playoff underachievers of a generation – the notoriously bad playoff San Jose Sharks versus the “almost kids”, the Vancouver Canucks. Both teams are deserving finalists despite both blowing 3-0 series leads already in the playoffs. Vancouver went 3-0-1 versus San Jose in the Regular Season but every game except for the first (6-1 win for Vancouver) was very close, competitive and entertaining.

The San Jose Sharks are the model of what most teams in the NHL aspire to be – big, fast, skilled and well coached. The difference between this Sharks team and ones from the past is their depth. No longer are they totally reliant on Thornton, Marleau and Heatley for offense (thank goodness), they have players like Ryan Clowe, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski who have stolen the offensive spotlight making them a bit of a matchup nightmare. They are as deep and talented as any team in the league and have been getting contributions from everyone on the roster – even Patrick Marleau!

Goaltending for once is a strength for the Sharks going into the most important playoff series in franchise history. Last year’s Stanley Cup winning goaltender Antti Niemi has come in and solidified a position that had plenty of question marks in previous playoffs. Niemi has made a believer out of me and has registered an unflattering 3.01 goals against average in the playoffs so far with a .906 save percentage. Niemi was the difference in the last two games of the Detroit series – he saved 80 of the 84 shots directed his way in his last two.

It is not surprising to see the Canucks in the Western Conference Final but it is surprising to see them here without the Sedins playing anywhere near their potential. Ryan Kesler has graduated to superstar status and Roberto Luongo appears to have shrugged off a sketchy opening round, giving the Canucks some quality netminding.

The good news for the Vancouver Canucks other than the stellar Conn Smythe calibre play of Ryan Kesler is the fact that they won’t have to deal with a shutdown pair of defensemen like they Seabrook/Keith or Weber/Suter. This may free the Sedins up to finally do some damage – they were held to two goals and five assists combined in the six games of the Nashville series. With three lines that have proven dangerous thus far in the playoffs the Canucks should be salivating to face a Sharks team that has given up over three goals per game in the playoffs.

Roberto Luongo has answered all of his critics and has responded well to being pulled in one game in the playoffs and playing backup in another. If not for three goals that were scored from behind the net in the Nashville series his numbers would have been superb in the semi-final.

Betting Prediction: Both teams are relatively healthy at this time in the playoffs considering their physical brand of hockey – the Canucks lead the playoffs with 436 hits and the Sharks are second with 363. Vancouver, although they have proven that they are not immune to laying the occasional egg is a team that looks to be playing better at this point. San Jose has lost three of their last four games and even in the game they won over that span (Game 7 in the semis) they were outplayed by a rather large margin.

San Jose is deserving of their spot in the Western Conference final but they have beaten teams that were in the lower half of the league defensively. The Vancouver Canucks are a completely different animal – the best team defensively during the Regular Season. Home ice, defense and an almost unmatched professionalism will be the difference.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks -155 in six games

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About DaveB

Dave B has been a Fantasy Football writer for us for 10 years. A couch potato wannabe, Dave’s insights have been read by 10’s of people for years. He hope’s for world peace + global relaxation. Enjoy and remember only smoke things that are completely natural.