Round 1: Kings vs. Sharks NHL Playoff Series Gambling Prediction & Lines

NHL Playoffs – LA vs San Jose Picks

California rivals – the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks will meet for the third time in four years in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they kick off their first round series in San Jose.

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Odds to win the 2014 Stanley Cup
Los Angeles Kings 10/1
San Jose Sharks 9/1

Odds to Win the 2014 Western Conference

Los Angeles Kings 6/1
San Jose Sharks 9/2
Kings Series Prices +125
Sharks Series Prices -145
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The series is a rematch of a classic seven game affair that went to the Kings last year. LA went 3-1-1 in five games against San Jose this season and the home team went 4-1-0 in those games. So will home ice advantage play dividends for the Sharks this year or will the bolstered Kings ride their insane defense to another series win over the perennial playoff disappointment Sharks?

The Los Angeles Kings will predictably rely on a stout defense and an all-world goaltender in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year – a formula that has worked in playoffs past and was evident this season for the 2012 Cup Champs. Goaltender Jonathan Quick was once again one of the best keepers in the game helping the Kings to once again stake their claim as one of the two best defensive teams in the NHL. Quick is certainly playoff tested and he did go 2-0-0 versus the Sharks this year with one shutout and a 1.46 GAA.

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Playing in front of Quick is arguably the best defensive corp. in the game today led by Drew Doughty who enters the playoffs with a balky shoulder but with zero questions about his ability. Robyn Regehr, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin all play a Taylor-made playoff brand of hockey – stingy and physical each and every shift. Penetrating the Kings uber-stout D is a chore to say the least and IF you can do that Mr. Quick looms.

The weakness on the LA Kings has been and continues to be the lack of scoring. Marian Gaborik was brought in at the trade deadline to bolster a unit that was rated among the worst in goals for – his presence on paper is solid but the overall production hasn’t seen much of an uptick since he was brought aboard.
Still names like Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Dwight King, Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan exist as one of the deeper, most complete forward units in the game.

The San Jose Sharks will try to exorcise the demons of playoffs past but they are in tough against their state rivals. The Sharks bested the Kings in the regular season standings but know playoff success is all that matters this year.

The forward unit for the Sharks is typically strong – one of the best all year in the NHL. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture are quick, they are fast and they are talented – a test for even the best defensive clubs. Rookie Tomas Hertl returns to the lineup after a knee injury – he could thrive after a long absence or he could flop with the added intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Tommy Wingels, Matt Nieto, James Sheppard, Andrew Desjardins and Raffi Torres provide the depth for one of the highest scoring teams in the league during the regular season. This team generates shots – a league-high 35 per game during the regular season and with shots comes scoring chances and with chances comes goals.

Perhaps the biggest improvement for the Sharks this year – one that makes a difference in the playoffs is on defense. Marc-Edouard Vlasic has elevated his game and his experience for Team Canada at the Olympics only strengthened his case as one of the elite D-men in the game. Dan Boyle, Justin Braun, Jason Demers, Scott Hannan and Brad Stuart make up an impressive all around unit. The Sharks may not be the Kings defensively but they are more than formidable in their own zone.

The biggest weakness on the Sharks is between the pipes – Antti Niemi hasn’t been great but lucky for him he is a Cup winning keeper – as experienced as there is in the playoffs. He was 2-1-1 with a .910 save percentage and 2.67 GAA against the Kings this season which offers a bit of optimism but if I am a Sharks fan I am very, very nervous about the lack of a solid netminder going forward.

Betting Prediction

Home ice has been very important during the season series between the two teams – advantage Sharks. But it is hard to fathom anyone beating Jonathan Quick four out of seven games. It will be the Sharks offense versus the Kings defense and defense typically wins in the postseason.

In what is sure to be another classic series, take the Kings to prevail in six games.

By DaveB

Dave B has been a Fantasy Football writer for us for 10 years. A couch potato wannabe, Dave’s insights have been read by 10’s of people for years. He hope’s for world peace + global relaxation. Enjoy and remember only smoke things that are completely natural.