Saturday’s NHL Conference Finals betting preview: Blues at Sharks

 

St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks (A: +140, H: -160, O/U: 5)

Sharks lead series 2-1

The St. Louis Blues have been completely overmatched in the Western Conference finals, but they still have a chance to even the best-of-seven series when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night in Game 4. After squeezing out a 2-1 win in the series opener, the Blues have absorbed a pair of lopsided defeats — both via shutout.

The outlook appears bleak for St. Louis, which hasn’t scored a goal in 7 1/2 periods and now must try to win in an arena where San Jose has won six in a row in the postseason, including the past three by an aggregate 13-1 margin. “They can think what they want,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of any skeptics. “We know we’ve got more in here, we know we’ve got another level. They took it up a notch and now it’s up to us to get some rest and take it up a few more notches on Saturday.” The Sharks never held a lead in their first three trips to the conference finals and are trying not to look ahead to playing for the Stanley Cup for the first time. “It’s a long ways to go. It really is,” San Jose captain Joe Pavelski said. “We’ll worry about this next game and we’ll take it from there.”

TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Blues – Jake Allen (W/L: 0-0, GAA: 0.00, SAVE %: 1.000)

Sharks – Martin Jones (W/L: 10-5, GAA: 1.89, SAVE %: .919)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE BLUES (58-30-11, 38-45 O/U): St. Louis is making a switch in net, opting to sit Brian Elliott in favor of Jake Allen, who lost his starting job due to injury and has not played a full 60 minutes since March 26. The Blues need to find a way to get their offense going and their best bet is star forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who has been limited to one goal in six games — an empty-netter — after scoring 40 times during the regular season. “Vladi’s learning some really hard lessons,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Playoffs are for veteran players. And the veteran players on both teams have this thing dialed up. … You’re going to have to learn to fight through a lot if you expect to score. We would like him to learn that lesson a day from now, but we’re not sure about the time frame.”

ABOUT THE SHARKS (56-32-9, 48-38 O/U): One of the most glaring differences in the series is the play of the respective No. 1 lines, with San Jose’s top unit of Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl enjoying a clear advantage, combining for six points in Game 3. “Well, I think just playing a long time with somebody, we just know each other’s tendencies in our sleep,” said Thornton, who assisted on both of Hertl’s goals Thursday.. “For me, I like to pass. He likes to shoot. Then you throw this big fella in there (Hertl), it’s a pretty good line. “But, yeah, all three of us, we read so well off each other. We just got to keep continuing that.” Goaltender Martin Jones had some wobbly moments in the second round against Nashville, but has registered three shutouts in the past four games.

TRENDS:

* Blues are 1-4 in their last 5 Conference Finals games.
* Sharks are 6-0 in their last 6 home games.
* Under is 4-0 in Blues last 4 Conference Finals games.
* Under is 4-0 in Sharks last 4 Conference Finals games.
* Blues are 7-3 in the last 10 meetings in San Jose.

COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is favoring the Sharks for Saturday’s Game 4 at a rate of 63 percent. When looking at totals wagers, Over 5 is picking up 56 percent of the wagering action. View full consensus data here.

HOME TEAM ICE GIRLS:

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