Will Preds rise up vs. Sharks in Game 6?
No NHL team posted a better record on the road this season than San Jose. In order to clinch a spot in the Western Conference finals, Peter DeBoer’s club must lean on that fact rather than recent history at Bridgestone Arena.
The Sharks can close out the Predators with a win in tonight’s Game 5 of the second round. It certainly won’t be simple, though, given the funky things that tend to happen when the Pacific Division titans roll into the Volunteer State. San Jose has actually dropped eight of the past nine trips to the Music City.
That’s why handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv are justified in at least designating Nashville as even money to extend the series. Joe Pavelski and company enter as slight -120 favorites, with the over/under total established at five goals.
The third-seeded Sharks had no trouble lighting the lamp over the weekend, reeling off four unanswered tallies in Saturday’s 5-1 triumph to move within one victory of a playoff stage they last reached in 2011. Pavelski was responsible for two of those goals, while Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau provided ample offensive support.
On the flip side, Preds coach Peter Laviolette wonders what he must do to fire up some of his MIA scorers. Filip Forsberg owns a single goal and a minus-8 rating for the series. Defensive standout Shea Weber can claim just a pair of points. The cold reality is that netminder Pekka Rinne must stand on his head just to give Nashville a chance.
Still, we question how the host squad will generate any sort of pressure. That’s rarely an issue for San Jose. With an older group, DeBoer sees little reason to dawdle and prolong the proceedings unnecessarily. Expect the veteran leaders’ on-ice to reflect such a mentality.
MONDAY NHL FREE PICK: SHARKS/PREDATORS OVER 5 GOALS