Yesterday we had the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 and if you still have the need for more speed, this year’s Stanley Cup Finals will be able to fill that desire, just on skates.
As mentioned in our series preview, San Jose and Pittsburgh can fly up and down the ice and this could be defensemen’s nightmare, having to deal with skilled offensive players looking like they are wearing jetpacks.
In the opening game in Pittsburgh, and the throughout this series, the term “Speed Kills” will be very relevant. This could mean explosions of goals, two or three in short segments, making this a very tough series to predict for NHL picks and Game 1 one of the hardest.
The Sharks enter the postseason rather quietly, with lower expectations than in years. However, this San Jose team had a different vibe and has played with confidence and purpose, which has been seldom seen in past clubs. Credit new coach Peter DeBoer, for pushing the right buttons.
If you review virtually any website that has extensive hockey coverage, though the Sharks might be series underdogs, about two-thirds of the so-called experts have San Jose winning the Stanley Cup for first time.
In many ways it’s hard to argue with, Logan Couture (24 points) and Joe Pavelski (13 goals) have played in different stratosphere, be it this game or any other, plus Brent Burns (20 points), Joe Thornton (15 assists) and Patrick Marleau are expected to lead a strong charge for a team that is 33-17 SU on the road this season.
In football, the talk is always “next man up” when it comes to injuries and this has been what the Penguins have been dealing with for months. Pascal Dupuis was forced to retire, Evgeni Malkin missed significant time and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was dealing with concussion issue right before the playoffs were about to begin. This plus other problems, including important defenseman Trevor Daley out with broken ankle.
Yet through it all, coach Mike Sullivan has been able to plug in the right player or others upped their game like a Phil Kessel or goalie Matt Murray and Pittsburgh has thrived despite being short-handed, which is testament to their depth, but also to this squads attitude of never giving up.
How Does Total Shape Up?
If this series goes six or seven games as expected, the OVER would seem to be the outcome the majority of the time against the NHL odds.
With all this speed, there will be a number of odd man rushes and unless the goalies are super human, goals will be scored. This is thought to be true also in special teams play, where both clubs at over 23 percent facing stiff competition in the playoffs.
The opening total of 5.5 looks vulnerable.
What to Expect and Winner
Sometimes when teams have not faced each other that much like these two, the opening affair can be a feeling out process. With how these two skate, figure this to last 10 minutes at most of the first period.
From here it will be game on and to be honest, this initial contest is a tossup, with whoever wins, the other team will take Game 2. This is not overwhelming selection, but I can make case for San Jose to steal the opening contest with goals aplenty.
Free Pick – San Jose Wins and Over