Sharks at Blackhawks Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Dave Schwab - 2/22/2013
The San Jose Sharks will try and hand the Chicago Blackhawks their first loss in regulation this season when the two Western Conference foes square off this Friday night at the United Center. The game is set to get underway at 8:30 p.m. (ET), and it will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.
The Sharks snapped a seven-game losing streak this past Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over St. Louis as +106 road underdogs. They are now 8-4-3 on the season with 19 points, which has them tied for fifth place in the West. The total has stayed “under” in eight of their last 10 games.
This past Tuesday, Chicago posted its 13th victory of the season in a 4-3 shootout over Vancouver as a -106 home favorite. The white-hot Blackhawks overall record is 13-0-3, and they have opened a four-point lead over Anaheim in the West with a league-high 29 points. The total has stayed under in three of their last five games.
Sharks at Blackhawks Betting Storylines
The big question with San Jose coming into this showdown is which version is going to show up. The one that reeled off seven-straight victories to start the season or the one that has scored a total of 10 goals in its last eight games? The Sharks offense has all but ground to a halt as it is now ranked 21st in the league with a goals-per-game average of 2.5. Patrick Marleau leads the team with 10 goals, but he has just one in his last 10 games.
Fortunately, the Sharks still have a shut-down defense that is ranked fifth in the NHL in goals allowed by giving up an average of 2.1 a game. They are also ranked fifth against the power play with a kill rate of 87.1 percent. Antti Niemi is off to a strong start in goal and should get the call in this one. He comes in with a goals-against-average of 1.86 and a .933 save percentage.
It has all gone right for Chicago during the first quarter of this year’s shortened regular season. It is ranked second in the NHL in scoring with an average of 3.3 goals a game. Patrick Kane has been an unstoppable force so far with nine goals and 13 assists, and the Blackhawks have seven other players with at least three goals. A big piece of this attack could be missing on Friday night if Marian Hossa remains out of the lineup after taking a shot to the head against the Canucks.
Defensively, Chicago has been equally as good with a GAA of just 1.9 and a power play kill rate of 87.9 percent. Another health concern for Friday is goalie Corey Crawford, who is listed as questionable with an upper body injury. Fortunately, the Blackhawks have a solid back up in Ray Emery. In six appearances this season, he has a save percentage of .925 and a 2.27 GAA.
Sharks at Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds and Trends
San Jose comes into this matchup as a +119 road underdog on BetOnline’s opening money line with the Blackhawks listed as -131 home favorites. The “over/under” for this contest has been set at 5.
The Sharks are 6-1 in their last seven games following a win but just 1-9 in their last 10 games against the Central Division. The total has stayed under in four of their last five games on the road.
The Blackhawks are 6-2 in their last eight games playing on two day’s rest and 7-1 in their last eight games against the Pacific Division. The total has stayed under in seven of their last nine home games.
The home team in this series is 6-1 in the last seven meetings, and the total has gone 3-3 in the last six meetings. These two have already met twice this season with Chicago winning 5-3 as a slight -101 road favorite and 4-1 this past Friday as a -133 favorite at home.
Sharks at Blackhawks Picks and Betting Predictions
The Blackhawks come into this matchup a bit banged up on both ends of the ice. Combine this with the pressure of keeping their current winning streak alive, and it presents the perfect opportunity to go against Chicago on Friday night. The Sharks are still one of the better teams in the West and prove it with a win.
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