San Jose Sharks, LA Kings begin NHL betting series

By: Brad Young | Wednesday, April 13, 2011

San Jose (48-25-4-5) takes the postseason ice Thursday versus Los Angeles (46-30-4-2) in an effort to exercise some playoff demons in the Western Conference.  The fact that the Sharks are the biggest favorite in a first-round series probably won’t help a franchise that has traditionally struggled after the regular season.

Second-seed San Jose earned 105 points during the regular campaign, and enters this series as overwhelming minus 335 ‘chalk’ to advance to the next round.  The Sharks ranked sixth in the league in goals scored with an average of three goals per game, while the Kings struggled at 25th (2.5).

Don Best's Real-Time Odds has San Jose as a 210 home favorite for Game 1, with the total set at five, ‘over’ (-130).  Thursday’s opener is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. PT from the Sharks’ HP Pavilion.

San Jose and Los Angeles split six games this season, with the Kings winning a pair by shootout.  The Sharks prevailed Nov. 15 as 120 home ‘chalk,’ 6-3, Jan. 1 as a 107 road underdog, 1-0, and April 4 as a 165 home favorite, 6-1.  Los Angeles triumphed Dec. 27 as a 140 road ‘dog, 4-0, Jan. 26 in a shootout as 115 home ‘chalk,’ 3-2, and March 24 via shootout as a 114 home favorite, 4-3.

The favorite is 6-2 the previous eight encounters in this series.  The Kings have struggled to a dismal 8-19 ledger their previous 27 trips to San Jose.

Los Angeles concluded the regular season by dropping three of its last four outings, and the lone triumph occurred in a home shootout.  The Kings fell to Anaheim Saturday as 130 home ‘chalk,’ 3-1, while the combined four goals failed to topple the 5 ½-goal closing total.

Los Angeles lost despite enjoying sizeable advantages in faceoffs won, 38-21, and shots on goal, 44-20.  Ryan Smyth scored the Kings’ lone goal in the second period, while netminder Jonathan Quick stopped 17 shots.

Los Angeles has seen the ‘under’ go 6-1-1 its last eight outings overall.  The Kings have also seen the ‘under’ go 12-3-1 the previous 16 outings when listed as an underdog.

San Jose had dropped back-to-back outings before upending Phoenix Saturday as a 159 home favorite, 3-1.  The combined four goals failed to eclipse the five-goal closing total, ending a string of five straight ‘over’ outings.

The Sharks led in faceoffs won, 38-33, and shots on goal, 37-36, and two of their goals occurred during the power play.  Goaltender Anntti Niemi stonewalled 35 shots, while Joe Pavelski, Ian White and Logan Couture lit the lamp.

Niemi helped the Chicago Blackhawks capture last year’s Stanley Cup, and was between the pipes for 35 wins this season.  The Finland native had a solid .920 save percentage to go along with a miniscule goals against average of just 2.38.

San Jose is now 20-6 its past 26 outings following a victory.  The Sharks have seen the ‘over’ go 10-2-1 their previous 13 contests overall.

Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar will miss this series due to an ankle injury, while right wing Justin Williams (shoulder) is ‘probable’ for Thursday’s opener versus the Sharks.  San Jose right wing Ryane Clowe (lower body) is ‘probable’ against the Kings.

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