Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:10 PM EST.
10:05 PM EST. OT included. The Sharks have won four in a row and five of their last six games during this crucial stretch to put them in a strong position to make the playoffs. San Jose was one of seven teams battling for three playoff spots but its recent success has them well in front now, as they are five and six points ahead of the Stars and Blues respectively, who were the two teams chasing them. Those two teams are now chasing Colorado, Los Angeles and Anaheim so it appears as though there are now two playoff spots available for five teams (Colorado, Los Angeles, Anaheim, St. Louis and Dallas). Three of those five teams will miss the playoffs but that doesn’t mean the Sharkies will be taking their foot off the pedal.
The Sharkies return home from a three-game trip through Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver while scoring 16 times in those three games. Their stock is soaring again but we’re not buying their recent success because it was a lot prettier on paper than it was on the ice. The Sharks last five wins were against Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Detroit and St. Louis. Over the past five weeks, San Jose ranks 16th and 21st respectively in 5v5 Score and Venue Adjusted Corsi For % and Corsi Against/60. They were very fortunate to beat Calgary and Vancouver in its last two games and now they return home for one game against a team from the East before they close out their season with eight remaining games all against West rivals beginning on Thursday when Vegas visits the SAP Center. The Sharks are winning sloppy lately, as they allowed 10 goals against on their just completed road trip and it’s also worth noting that San Jose has just 14 wins in 35 games against top-16 teams. This is not only a tough game for the Sharks but it’s also a vulnerable spot.
The Devils were clearly outplayed in the second game of back-to-backs in Anaheim on Sunday night, as the Ducks came out flying and never let up in a 4-2 victory. The good news is that the Florida Panthers won last night and that’s good news because they’re the team that is chasing the Devils for the final Wild Card spot so the Devils cannot afford to take a shift off, let alone a game. New Jersey is just three points up on the Panthers but Florida has two games in hand. Florida plays in Ottawa tonight so the Devils will know that score when this one starts and no result is a bad one. A win by Florida pulls the Panthers within one point of the Devils and a loss gives New Jersey a chance to really solidify its playoff chances and go up by five. The Devils were in San Jose all yesterday and had a much needed day off. They’ll wrap up a five game West Coast trip with either a 4-1 record or 3-2 record but we have to trust they’ll dig deep, just as they have been for the better part of a month. The Devils figure to be all business here and they could not have asked for a better situational spot, as the Sharks are not only banged up with several players being questionable here (Donskoi, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joel Ward and Melker Karlsson) but they could be a little complacent with all those Western teams on deck after this one. Even if the Sharks play well, which is a distinct possibility; the Devils can skate with them and are still a threat to beat them.
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New Jersey +145 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.90)