The 2017-2018 NHL season begins on Wednesday, October 4 with four games, including a late night matchup in San Jose between the Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks. The Flyers are coming off yet another disappointing season, as they missed the playoffs, while the Sharks finished third in the Pacific Division. These teams played two low scoring games a year ago, with each team winning at home. Let’s look at this Wednesday night contest and NHL predictions.
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The Sharks will be listed as home favorites in this contest. The Flyers were a bad road team a season ago, going 14-27, with 20 games going over, 19 going under the total, with two pushes.
The Sharks were 26-15 at home last season, with just 10 games going over, 22 going under, with nine pushes.
The Sharks were favored in both meetings last season between the teams. They were listed as a -170 favorite at home and they were a -130 favorite on the road. The total was 5.5 in the meeting in San Jose but just 5 in the game in Philly. The Sharks have been favored in the last eight games at home in this series and they won seven of the eight games.
The Flyers are 1-9-1 in the last 11 meetings in San Jose. The Flyers have been awful on the road recently, losing 21 of their last 27 and they have been bad against the Pacific Division, losing 24 of their last 33. The Sharks are 7-1 in their last 8 vs. Metropolitan. The Under is 14-5-4 in the Sharks last 23 vs. the Metropolitan.
The Flyers were 14th in the NHL on the power play a season ago at 19.5%. The team scored 2.6 goals per game on the season, which was 21st in the league. Philadelphia was just 22nd in the league on the penalty kill at 79.8%. They allowed 2.8 goals per game on the season, ranking 21st in the league.
The Sharks were poor on the power play a year ago, as they ranked 25th in the league at just 16.7%. They averaged just 2.7 goals per game, which ranked 19th. The Sharks were just 18th in penalty killing at 80.7% but overall, the Sharks were 5th in the league in goals allowed at 2.4 per contest, due in large part to the play of goaltenders Martin Jones and Aaron Dell who had goals against averages of 2.40 and 2.00 respectively.
Player to Watch
The player to watch in this game is San Jose’s Joe Thornton. Many people didn’t believe Thornton would be back this season but he is badly needed by San Jose, especially with Patrick Marleau now in Toronto. It has been less than six months since the 38-year old Thornton underwent knee surgery but he is back at full strength. Head coach Pete DeBoer said to the Mercury News that Thornton was their best player in a recent preseason game against Arizona. The Sharks struggled to score in the preseason so they need Thornton to be at his best this season.
Free NHL Picks
Sometimes trends don’t mean much in sports handicapping but it is hard to ignore what the Sharks have done at home against the Flyers in recent seasons. San Jose has won 8 of the last 10 meetings, with the only Philadelphia win in San Jose coming in 2014. This has also been a low scoring series, with five of the last six going under the total. I will lay the price and take the Sharks and also play the game to go under the total.
NHL Odds: Sharks 2, Flyers 1
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