NHL Hockey Betting:  San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues&h=253&w=372&zc=1

A concept that we often like to use in playoff handicapping is going against the ‘Game Seven hangover’. That’s going against a team coming off a seven game series in the first game of their next series. The problem here is that *both* teams are coming off seven game series which means it cancels each other out. That leaves us with what should be a very entertaining Western Conference Finals between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues.

The Sharks went through the 2015-2016 regular season playing poorly at home and dominating on the road. They did just the opposite in the Western Conference Semifinals against Nashville–in that series the home team won every game which gave San Jose a 4-3 series victory. That matchup is very instructive when handicapping this one as there were times when the Predators were the dominant team. The Blues play a similar style of hockey to Nashville–only they do it better. St. Louis needed seven games to dispatch the Western Conference regular season champion Dallas Stars. Brian Elliott was the ‘goat’ in Game Six as he was pulled after a dismal start to the game. Otherwise, he’s been excellent throughout the playoffs and redeemed himself in Game Seven with a superb performance.

The price on this series suggests that it’ll be much closer than I see it. San Jose was life and death against erratic Nashville for long stretches during their series. The Blues have had a much tougher road to this point–through Dallas and defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago–and they’ve gutted their way through it. The Sharks have more firepower up front than does St. Louis but the Blues have the edge in every other area of the matchup. Besides, St. Louis gets good offensive output from Vladimir Tarasenko and they’ve done well during the playoffs at having unsung heroes step up when they need goals.

The Blues are just the better team and at this point are my favorite to win the Stanley Cup. They’ll take Game One and eventually win this series. San Jose won’t roll over but against the balanced excellence of St. Louis should go down in five or six.