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NHL Playoff Betting: Western Conference Finals Game Five: Sharks vs. Canucks

Written by Matt Stevens   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 07:32

NHL Playoff Betting Odds and NewsOnline Sports Betting Overview

What happened to the San Jose Sharks in the wake of the 2011 Preakness Stakes betting seemed like a nightmare from which San Jose fans could not wake up. The NHL highlights from game four of this series showed the Vancouver Canucks scoring on almost 33 percent of their shots. San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi looked out of position and seemed like he was fighting the puck. At the other end, the Sharks were peppering Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo with shots but nothing was going in. The pay per head Sharks fans in the building that night could not believe what they were seeing.

The Vancouver Canucks, on the other hand, played the same game plan that they have had for the entire playoffs. The difference in game four was that Roberto Luongo came through in goal. The Canucks had almost no defense to speak of in game four because they spent most of their time on the attack.

The weakest point of the Sharks’ defense, goaltender Antti Niemi, lost game four for the Sharks. With Niemi ready to prove that he is still a Stanley Cup caliber goaltender, the Sharks defense is prepared to smother the Canucks once again and bring the series back to San Jose.

Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks want to rely on goaltender Roberto Luongo, but he has not been so steady in the playoffs in the past. In game four, the Canucks left Luongo on his own and he came through. Luongo faced 17 shots in the third period and only allowed two goals. The only unknown in game five is whether or not Luongo can maintain that kind of play as the playoffs continue. Luongo’s record in the playoffs would indicate that he cannot continue to hold down the fort while the Sedin twins and the rest of the Vancouver team leave him on his own. The Canucks defense cracked under the pressure of the Sharks offense in game four. If the same thing happens in game five, and Luongo cracks, then it will be a blow out for San Jose.

San Jose Sharks
It is not every game that a Stanley Cup winning goaltender allows four goals against on 13 shots in a critical playoff game. The Sharks are counting on the fact that it does not happen every game, and that is why they will put Niemi back in the net for game five. Antti Niemi has not been the rock solid playoff goaltender for the Sharks that he was for the Blackhawks last season when he was back-stopping Chicago to a Stanley Cup. But Niemi still has a chance to show that he can be the key part of a winning team. The San Jose offense is having no problems getting shots on goal, they just need to find a way to get the puck past Luongo.

The Bottom Line
The Canucks are leaning on a shaky Luongo to get them to the next round of the playoffs. But, so far, Luongo has held up. The Canucks defense is lacking in any kind of aggression, and that is what is allowing the Sharks to get a lot of shots on goal. In game five, the Sharks need to take advantage of the open ice and start scoring.

BSN Sports Pick: San Jose Sharks

 
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