It's Game 3 of a First Round NHL Playoff Series between the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues on Monday night. The game is scheduled for a 10:00 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network. Currently the odds have the Sharks as -125 favorite (Risk $125 to win $100) and the Blues as a road underdog at EVEN money or better. The total is set at 5 goals for this contest.
Free Analysis: With the Sharks being a -125 favorite based on the oddsmakers, they have a 55.56% chance at winning the game. It's another series where a key player will be missing for at least one team. That player is St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak, who has been ruled out of the game by the team. He and teammate Barret Jackman had a collision in Game 2 that looked extremely bad and appears to be as well. Several fights went down in Game 2, including Joe Pavalski and Kris Russel getting it on, Dan Boyle and Alexander Steen's scuffle and the big one. St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka broke San Jose forward Dominic Moore's nose at the end of the game, which saw gloves, sticks, helmets and the like all over the ice as the game was finished. San Jose coach Todd McLellan called the move a "sucker punch" and he's right. But then again, this is what playoff hockey brings to the table every night. Aside from the noted fights so far, there have been countless other infractions made by one team or the other. This is a very physical series and there really is no reason to assume it's going to slow down anytime soon. San Jose was a pretty good team at home this season, sporting a 26-12-3 record in the Shark Tank. On the other hand, St. Louis wasn't exactly a dominating road team. The Blues finished with a 19-16-6 record on the road this year. What should be the biggest injury or player not performing in Game 3 will be Halak for the Blues. He turned away 43 of 46 shots in the game and a half he played in the series. His replacement, at least for Game 3, will be Brian Elliott, who made 17 saves coming on in relief during the second game the other day. The series is tied at 1-1 and a couple of wins by the Sharks could prove to be huge for the squad and put the Blues in a serious hole. However, Elliot doesn't plan on being a huge dropoff from Halak. Elliott led the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average and shut out the Sharks once during the regular season already this year. It's a miracle the Sharks have even won a game to date in the series. One of the best lines in hockey, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Pavelski, haven't registered a goal yet in the series. Something tells me that is going to change in the next two games.
Free Pick: I really like San Jose at this low of a price. I know the Sharks have already been shut out by Elliot this season but this team had their backs against the wall in Game 2 and came out with a tough, grind it out win. I'm expecting something completely different in this Game 3. San Jose knows St. Louis is in an incredibly vulnerable state for this contest. If the Blues don't win Game 3, they will be staring a potential 3-1 series deficit right in the face, when they will have to beat the Sharks three straight games to advance. In the normal world of hockey, that's not just something that happens. But then again, if the Sharks are to win games three and four, they will have beaten St. Louis three straight. Playoff hockey is great and I'm going to take the Sharks in this game.
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