San Jose (0-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0)
When: Monday, May 30th 2016
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC
Two high-powered offenses will meet in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. The Sharks are in the Cup Finals for the first time ever and bring an imposing power-play into this series. Led by captain Joe Pavelski, the Sharks have scored five or more goals in six of its 18 postseason games thus far. Pavelski has a playoff-best 13 goals while playing alongside veteran Joe Thornton (15 assists) and Tomas Hertl. The power-play unit has converted on 17-of-63 chances. Defenseman Brent Burns is third in the postseason with 20 points, trailing only Pavelski and Logan Couture, who leads all players with 24 points and 16 assists. Offseason acquisition Martin Jones has registered three shutouts in the last seven games and has a 2.12 GAA this postseason.
Captain Sidney Crosby has the Penguins in the Stanley Cup for the third time in 11 years, but first since the 2008-09 season. Crosby and fellow center Evgeni Malkin form one of the most lethal 1-2 combinations in the world, but the Penguins have relied on a deep and balanced roster to reach the Finals. Malkin has points in five straight games overall and eight in 10 career matchups versus the Sharks. While Crosby and Malkin each have 15 points, the team’s leader is Phil Kessel, who has scored nine goals among his 18 points. Malkin’s production has risen since he was paired with rookie speedster Bryan Rust, who scored both goals to eliminate the Lightning in seven games. The teams split two meetings this season, with Pittsburgh’s 5-1 victory on December 1st marking its first win at San Jose since October 22nd, 1997.
This should be a fast-skating exciting series with each net-minder needing to be on their game. The Sharks were one of the best road teams in the NHL this season and should at least split these two in Pittsburgh. You’ll get plus money on each game, so take San Jose in the first two.
Pick: Sharks +130