San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues

 

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The St. Louis Blues will look to complete the two-game home sweep over the San Jose Sharks when the two teams meet again on Wednesday night at the Enterprise Center. St. Louis won the first meeting of the set 5-4 on Monday night, cashing in as a -183 favorite on the moneyline while the game went over the betting total of 5.5 goals. San Jose fell to 1-2-0 on the young season, while St. Louis is off to a 2-1-0 start.

Each of the last six meetings have gone in favor of the Blues, dating back to the 2019 Western Conference Finals between the two teams.

San Jose’s defense crumbles at St. Louis

The Sharks have been unable to build on their 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes to start the season with two straight losses since, including Monday’s game at St. Louis. San Jose got off to a hot start with goals by Kevin Labanc and Logan Couture on the power play in the first 15 minutes, but allowed four goals in the second period and were unable to rally after Jordan Kyrou scored the go-ahead goal at the 10:28 mark of the third.

Couture led the way for San Jose with two goals and an assist, while Brent Burns also had three points. Veteran goaltender Devan Dubnyk allowed five goals on 33 shot attempts in his first start with the Sharks after spending 11 years between four different teams.

“We scored four on the road. We won the special teams and that should be a recipe for at least a point,” head coach Bob Boughner said via the Associated Press. “I can think of three, off the top of my head, goals that came off our sticks. Just high percentage, really unsmart hockey plays, and they go down and score and that hurts.”

San Jose is now 2-1 against the spread as it was able to cover the +1.5 puckline on Monday, and won outright as a +115 underdog in the season opener against Arizona before losing the next two. All three Sharks games have gone over the betting total, which has been set at 5.5 goals each time.

The Sharks are off to a solid start offensively with at least three goals in every game for an average of 3.666 per contest on 31.66 shots per game and a whopping 45.5 percent on the power play. Defense has been the issue, with opponents scoring 4.33 goals per game on 32 shots per game and 80 percent on the penalty kill.

Center Tomas Hertl is tied for the NHL lead in points with six, while Couture has two goals and two assists and leads the team with a +2. Martin Jones started the first two games of the year in goal, stopping 53 of 61 shots while splitting the two decisions.

Second-year center Maxim Letunov has been on the COVID list and it is unclear if he will be able to return by Wednesday. Left winger Rudolfs Balcers has been unable to join the team due to a visa issue after being claimed off waivers from Ottawa last week.

Blues rally for second win of the year

The Blues were able to shake off last Friday’s 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche with a victory over San Jose to start the two-game set. After the rough start to the game, Justin Faulk and Mike Hoffman each scored within a two-minute stretch early in the second to tie the game. Brayden Schenn also scored and Faulk added another before the end of the frame to keep pace with San Jose before Kyrou’s game winner in the third.

Faulk was the first star of the game with the two goals on eight shots, while top free agent acquisition Torey Krug led all skaters with a +3. Jordan Binnington had another rough game allowing four goals on 26 shots faced, but it was enough to get the win.

“Too many goals against for sure,” head coach Craig Berube said via the Associated Press. “We get down 2-0, we battled back. I thought our first period was actually good and you come out of there down 2-0, it’s discouraging, but I thought our guys got back in the game the second period.”

St. Louis is 1-2 against the spread as it was unable to cover the -1.5 puckline on Monday, but is up overall on the moneyline after beating the Avalanche as a +129 underdog in the opener. Overs are 2-1 for the Blues this season, with the lone under coming in the 4-1 win over Colorado to open the season.

The Blues are averaging exactly three goals per game this season on 28.66 shots per contest and an 0/9 start on the power play. Opponents are averaging 4.33 goals per game against St. Louis, although that is skewed by the 8-0 meltdown in game two against Colorado, on 30.33 shots allowed per game and a rough 8/14 on the power play.

Kyrou now takes over the team lead in points with three, while Faulk has a Blues-best +4 for the season. Binnington has started all three games while stopping 68 out of 77 shot attempts, and was pulled after allowing four goals in the loss to Colorado.

The Blues will be without a couple of big names for a while, as right winger Vladimir Tarasenko is expected to be out until March with a shoulder injury and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Left winger Sammy Blais will be eligible to return from a two-game suspension for an illegal check on Wednesday.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

We’ve seen wildly different results between games of these two-game sets during the young NHL season so far, and this is good value to bet on the Blues winning by more than one goal this time around. St. Louis is the much better team in every facet, and should be able to rack up plenty of goals on Wednesday as the Sharks are going to struggle to keep the puck out of their net this season.

Goaltending figured to be the main source of San Jose’s problems this season, and that has indeed played out through three games as Jones looks headed for his third straight season with a sub-.900 save percentage and Dubnyk is on the downslope of his career. A Sharks defense with some aging and injury-prone stars isn’t doing much to help the goaltending out, and on the other side a perfectly capable St. Louis offense isn’t going to convert 0 percent of its power plays forever.

Losing Alex Pietrangelo hurts, but the additions of Krug and Hoffman are more than enough to make St. Louis a Stanley Cup contender again, and the Blues defense is one of the best in the NHL. St. Louis should have enough to pick apart San Jose’s shaky goal prevention unit and win by two or more on Wednesday.

Prediction:
St Louis -1.5 (+140)

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

Binnington remains an enigma in goal, as seen by his performance against Colorado when he held one of the NHL’s best teams to one goal in game one before being chased halfway through game two. For now it’s difficult to trust Binnington to completely keep the Sharks off the scoreboard, as San Jose has plenty of talented players left on that end and should have a lethal power play all season.

The Blues’ offense will definitely miss Tarasenko for a few weeks, but still has done plenty of damage in two of its three games, and that’s with Ryan O’Reilly only managing one point so far. There’s more than enough depth on the roster for St. Louis to have another five plus goal performance, as the Sharks look like they could have the worst goaltending situation in the league outside of Chicago.

Prediction:
Over 6