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Today’s featured NHL betting preview: Los Angeles Kings (27-18-12, 66 pts) @ San Jose Sharks (30-22-8, 68 pts); Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA; Sunday, February 22, 12.10am
Intrastate rivals separated by just two points in the Western Conference playing outdoors in front of 70,000 fans – that’s the set-up for the latest edition of the NHL’s Stadium Series as the Los Angeles Kings take on the San Jose Sharks at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium, in Santa Clara. Playing outdoors is nothing new for most NHL players, many of whom grew up playing pond hockey or at other makeshift outdoor rinks in Canada and the northern United States. Playing outdoors in the California sun is a different experience. This is the second time the NHL has staged an outdoor game in California with the Kings and Anaheim Ducks taking part last year at Dodger Stadium. While the average temperature for the first 14 outdoor games was 30.3 degrees, the forecast for game night was for clear conditions and temperatures in the 50s.
Players said the puck bounced a bit more than usual and the ice was a bit soft in the afternoon when San Jose practiced. But with the game being played at night, the ice should be in better shape tonight. The league brought in regulation boards and glass to be built around the ice rink that has taken more than a week to put in place. The ice will be kept at about 22 degrees by the 300-ton refrigeration unit that NHL ice specialist Dan Craig said is as powerful as about 300 home freezers. The ice will be about 1.75 inches thick, compared to 1.25 inches for an indoor rink. The Sharks entered Friday tied with Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division, just two points ahead of Los Angeles in the race for a playoff spot, giving neither team much margin for error down the stretch.
The Kings have 16 players with outdoor experience, including 15 who played last year at Dodger Stadium and forward Marion Gaborik who played in the 2012 Winter Classic with the New York Rangers. Los Angeles started the month with back-to-back losses before reeling off six successive victories, including a 4-1 triumph at Colorado on Wednesday. Jeff Carter scored twice and Tyler Toffoli added a goal and an assist as the Kings posted their third straight road win. San Jose is out to record successive wins for the first time since ending January with three in a row. Andrew Desjardins registered his second career two-goal performance and Antti Niemi made 37 saves as the Sharks rolled to their second victory in seven contests, a 5-2 triumph at Dallas last Thursday. San Jose won two of its first three meetings with their Pacific Division-rival Kings this season, splitting a pair of games in Los Angeles before claiming a 4-2 decision at home on January 21.
Confirmed bets (card finalised)
Los Angeles Kings @ San Jose Sharks -5.5 (one unit @ $1.90) – we have this number locked in at five and would be really surprised to see the winner score more than three. These sides promise goals with the ‘over’ 4-1 in the past five meetings in San Jose. Both have season records that lean to the over as well. Road teams have a winning record of 10-4 since outdoor games started in 2003 while nine of those 14 games have played ‘under’ the total. LA goalie Jonathan Quick has given up just four goals in his last three outings.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ St Louis Blues WIN (one unit @ 1.71) – the bookies know that the Penguins (32-17-9) will turn around their form at some point but in the meantime, they’re worth opposing almost every night. The Penguins, 10-11-5 in their past 26 games, have been limited to average of 1.9 goals in nine contests this month while going 0 for 20 on the power play. Opponents haven’t seen much go their way against St Louis (38-16-4), which has won 16 of its past 20. The Blues are The Blues are 20-4-0 when Vladimir Tarasenko finds the back of the net.
Winnipeg Jets WIN @ Toronto Maple Leafs (one unit @ $1.74) – Toronto (23-31-5) is 0-4-1 in its past five games and 2-15-2 in 19 games since Peter Horachek replaced Randy Carlyle as coach. The Jets have won the past five against Toronto by an average margin of more than two goals. They’re also on a run of four wins in their past six overall and 5-0 in their past five against Atlantic Division competition. The Maple Leafs are 0-8 in their past eight after allowing two goals or fewer in their previous game and 0-4 in their past four against Central Division sides.
Anaheim Ducks -1.5 @ Edmonton Oilers (one unit @ $2.67) – trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes Friday in Calgary, Anaheim dashed to a 6-3 victory by matching a franchise record with five goals in the third period. The Ducks will next face one of the lowest-scoring teams in the Western Conference. The Oilers have managed just 2.23 goals per contest. They had scored seven non-shootout goals in their two games before Friday’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota. Anaheim is 12-1-1 in its past 14 games in Edmonton and 19-3-1 in their past 23 overall match-ups, including a 2-1 victory in the first meeting this season without leading goal scorer Corey Perry.
Today’s other games
New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals
Nashville Predators @ Philadelphia Flyers
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers @ Ottawa Senators
Carolina Hurricanes @ New Jersey Devils
Detroit Red Wings @ Dallas Stars
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Arizona Coyotes
Most recent results: 2-0-1, +0.82 units; overall record: 162-9-131, +27.24 units
Boston Bruins @ St Louis Blues +5.5 (one unit @ $2.14) WIN (1-5)
Vancouver Canucks WIN @ New Jersey Devils (one unit @ $1.98) LOSE (2-4)
Colorado Avalanche +1.5 @ Chicago Blackhawks (one unit @ $1.68) WIN (4-1)
• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to Pinnaclebet.com.au (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.