Blues vs. Sharks Game 1 Betting Odds, Preview: Will Martin Jones Keep It Up?
Neville E. Guard, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Martin Jones
Game 1 Betting Odds: St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks
- Blues odds: +105
- Sharks odds: -125
- Over/Under: 5.5
- TV: NBC
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
>> All odds as of 10 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NHL odds and track your bets
Neither the Sharks nor Blues have exactly lit the world on fire in the postseason, but they are both here, four wins away from an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Expectations for the Sharks were pretty high this season. After the team acquired talismanic blueliner Erik Karlsson from Ottawa late in the offseason, oddsmakers slashed the Sharks to 12-1.
The Blues entered the season around 30-1 but would have been shorter if they weren’t playing in what was expected to be a tough Central Division. Neither the Jets nor the Predators lived up to preseason expectations, however, which opened the door for the Blues to make a stupendous second-half push and almost run away with the division.
Both San Jose and St. Louis came into 2018-19 with major question marks in goal. The Blues seemed to have answered that question thanks to the emergence of rookie Jordan Binnington, while the Sharks are still putting all their eggs in the Martin Jones basket.
The Sharks are the slightest of favorites to win this series at -120 and that can be chalked up to home-ice advantage.
The Battle at 5-on-5
The Sharks were one of the league’s best teams at 5-on-5 this season. Per Natural Stat Trick, San Jose led the NHL in shot share (55.4%), were second in expected goals (55.2%) and fourth in high-danger scoring chances (54.6%).
When at 100%, few teams can match San Jose’s forwards line-for-line and no team can match the talent on the Sharks defense, headlined by Karlsson, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
The Blues were also very strong at 5-on-5 throughout the regular season, though their success was built on great defensive play. St. Louis finished second in the NHL in xGA/60 and fifth in goals against per 60.
Things have not looked as peachy for either team during the postseason. Both teams have xG rates under 50% and they’re both below 45% in terms of high-danger chances. St. Louis has survived thanks to a good cycle game and strong defense, while the Sharks have advanced thanks to timely goals and being on the right side of some wonky officiating.
It has to be noted that there are some clear reasons for both of these teams to be struggling at 5-on-5. St. Louis just played a seven-game set against one of the best defensive teams in the league, so it’s not that surprising that the Blues couldn’t consistently generate good scoring chances. That being said, they will need Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly to find their form.
On the other hand, San Jose played one of the league’s best 5-on-5 teams in Round 1 and then had to battle a red-hot Avalanche team without Joe Pavelski, one of their best players, for six of seven games in Round 2.
It is entirely possible that both of these teams are saving their best playoff hockey for the next few weeks.
Jordan Binnington is the main reason that St. Louis turned its season around. The rookie netminder was spectacular during the regular season and even though his numbers have regressed in the postseason, he’s been just fine for St. Louis.
The Blues do a great job at limiting scoring chances, so Binnington’s job has been relatively easy and he’s given St. Louis what its needed to stay alive. The 25-year-old will likely need to step his game up against the Sharks, though. San Jose generates a lot of good scoring chances and has terrific shooters, so Binnington may need to steal a game or two in this series.
Binnington should be the best goalie in this series, but frankly nobody has any idea how the battle in the blue paint will shake out.
Goaltending is already incredibly difficult to project, but when Martin Jones is playing things get even murkier.
After a terrible regular season, Jones struggled in the first four games of Round 1 and nearly sunk the Sharks all by himself. From that point forward, the enigmatic 29-year-old has been fantastic and is in the best form of his season.
the good news and the bad news for SJ the same: this is the long stretch of above average hockey Martin Jones has played all season
slightly positive in the playoffs on the whole (some of this is survivor bias, which impacts most goalie playoff result measurements) pic.twitter.com/nVugty9WH5
— Cole Anderson (@ice_cole_data) May 11, 2019
Even though Binnington’s overall portfolio is stronger this season, Jones has actually been the better netminder in the postseason. His .910 save percentage may not light up the scoresheet, but when you compare it to his expected save percentage (.895), it looks pretty solid.
If Jones keeps playing at this level, the Sharks will be in great shape in this series. If Jones falters and reverts to “Regular Season Martin Jones,” look out.
Game 1 Betting Analysis
The odds tell you that this series should be pretty tight and Game 1 should be the tone-setter.
According to The Action Network’s consensus odds the Sharks are -125 favorites over the Blues (+105) in Game 1. That means San Jose has an implied probability of ~53.3%. When you adjust that number for home-ice advantage (roughly 5%), you come out with St. Louis as the better team on neutral ice. Even though I think these two teams are very close, I have the Sharks as the better team in a vacuum.
While betting on Martin Jones is never fun, the Sharks are a fine bet at -125, though I wouldn’t go much higher than that for Game 1. I’m also going to bet the Sharks to win this series at -120.