NHL Hockey Betting:  San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins&h=253&w=372&zc=1

The San Jose Sharks are down 1-0 in the series and definitely want to avoid being in an 0-2 hole heading back to California. On the scoreboard, their opening game against Pittsburgh was close. On the stat sheet, not so much. They were badly outshot by the Penguins and wouldn’t have been in the game at all were it not for goaltender Martin Jones. They only got 26 shots on net against Matt Murray. San Jose did manage a power play goal but otherwise were badly outplayed by Pittsburgh.

That was Game One but that doesn’t change the fundamental dynamic of this series. San Jose and Pittsburgh are still very evenly matched teams. In many ways, the Sharks have some significant edges over the Penguins. Their goaltending is much more ‘battle tested’. They have much more depth along the blueline and have a more balanced offense. Pittsburgh relies too much on Crosby and Malkin offensively though Phil Kessel has done a nice job scoring goals all throughout the playoffs. Kessel might be the Penguins’ playoff MVP so far this season and that’s something of a surprise for a player that was all but run out of Toronto last season.

The Sharks are still the ‘value’ side. This series is a coinflip and getting ‘plus money’ with either team is the way to play it. It’s not quite the value it was in Game One since the line clearly reflects that the Sharks ‘need’ this victory. There’s no reason they can’t get it. They’ve faced a Game Seven situation earlier in the playoffs against Nashville. They dealt with that challenge. They were a very good road team during the regular season. In fact, they were much better on the road than they were at home.

San Jose doesn’t want to go home with an 0-2 deficit but they’ve dealt with plenty of other challenges during this postseason. They had a shabby home record during the regular season but have been pretty good at home during the playoffs. They know that a split here would put them in a very advantageous position. They may or may not get that split but they’re still the value side.