The past five meetings between the Sharks and Blackhawks have gone to the road underdog. Look for San Jose to get the win tonight at Chicago's United Center.
The Sharks find themselves down 0-2 to the Blackhawks as the Western Conference playoff series shifts to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.
Game 2 wasn't really all that close. The Blackhawks got off to a 3-0 lead before the Sharks finally scored a goal. The teams exchanged goals in the third period as the Hawks cruised to victory.
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After winning the first two games in San Jose and now coming back home, it looks like the series is just about over. Not so fast.
Chicago deserved to win Game 2 as they were the better team that night. Game 1 could have gone either way, a one-shot game. Maybe the Sharks and Hawks should be tied going into Game 3.
San Jose will be the more motivated team tonight as the Sharks have their backs against the wall and need to cut the series lead in half. Evgeni Nabokov, who wasn't all that great in Game 2, should have a bounce-back night giving the Sharks a chance in this one. A loss here and the series is most likely over in four games.
San Jose and Chicago have met six times this season, which includes the playoffs. In those games Chicago has won three straight and five of six overall. Over the past 10 meetings Chicago has won seven times.
While in recent years Chicago has been the dominant team out of the two, the Blackhawks have been ordinary at home against the Sharks. Chicago sports just a 2-2 record in the past four at United Center. In all four games, it was a one-goal final so we should expect a closer game this evening.
The games have been so close in Chicago that three of the last four have needed extra time.
It should be noted that the Sharks have a 7-2 record in the last nine games in Chicago. Also, the road underdog is 5-0 in the past five games.
Antti Niemi was amazing in Game 1 of the series making a lot of saves on close-in chances that looked like sure goals. In Game 2 he continued his stellar play in turning away the Sharks.
Niemi has only allowed three goals on 72 shots in the series, with two of those goals coming on the power play for the Sharks. How long can he continue his brilliant play? At some point in the series he is going to have a bad game and let in a few goals. This may be just what San Jose needs to get some confidence going. Niemi has either been spectacular or out to lunch some nights.
Looking back at some of his performances this post season their have been some bad ones. In Round 1 against Nashville he allowed three or more goals in three of the six games. Round 2 against Vancouver saw Niemi allow four goals or more in three games. The Sharks can get back into this series; it's just a matter of time before Niemi has another bad game.
Currently the NHL betting odds list Chicago around minus -155. That price just seems to be a bit high for two teams that have played a close series up to now. There should be quite a bit of public money on the Hawks in this one.
As stated earlier, Chicago hasn't been that dominant against the Sharks at home and this looks to be close tonight. Getting the Sharks, one of the best teams in the league this year, at about plus 135 looks like a bargain. San Jose looks like the right side here tonight.
Pick: Sharks +135
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