San Jose Sharks (+115) at Pittsburgh Penguins (-135, 5 o/u)
In the first period of Game 1, the San Jose Sharks (12-7, 5-5 Away), looked the part of a team playing in its first Stanley Cup finals. They didn’t suffer a big loss on the scoreboard at the end of the night, recovering late and falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins (13-6, 8-3 Home). Actually, the Sharks avoided two big losses on that night.
Patrick Marleau won’t be suspended for a questionable hit on Bryan Rust in the third period, so the Sharks all-time leading scorer will be in the lineup for Game 2, tomorrow in Pittsburgh (Wed., 8:00 PM Eastern).
Rust is day-to-day with an upper body injury, but missing any time in this series would be a big loss for Pittsburgh. The Pens rookie has six goals this postseason, including the opener of Game 1.
With or without Rust in the lineup, Pittsburgh’s game plan won’t change. This team has been all about using their speed to get pucks to the net, and they followed that plan again on Monday. The Pens out-shot the Sharks 41-26 in Game 1, including a 15-4 advantage in the opening period.
Martin Jones was great in net for San Jose, notching a .927 save percentage in the loss. However, the first-year starter will need to turn in performances like that every night or San Jose will not be long for these finals.
There were bright spots for the Sharks. Not only did they rally back after falling behind 2-0, but they also won the special teams battle, going 1-for-2 with the man advantage while shutting down the Penguins power play three times. San Jose could find themselves with more opportunities moving forward, after a surprisingly chippy Game 1.
Whether they’ll admit it or not, the Sharks had jitters to open this series. But now that they’ve seen what the finals has to offer, they should put forth a better effort. The Sharks have lost four one-goal games these playoffs, and each time they rebounded to get the W in the next game.
Expect Peter DeBoer’s team to make the necessary adjustments and steal one on the road.
Pick: Sharks (+115).
(Photo credit: mark6mauno (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])