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Saturday NHL Odds & Picks for Sharks vs. Coyotes: Bet On a Favored Arizona Team (Jan. 16)

Saturday NHL Odds & Picks for Sharks vs. Coyotes: Bet On a Favored Arizona Team (Jan. 16) article feature image

Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Phoenix Coyotes standout Derrick Brassard.

  • San Jose and Arizona do battle in a Saturday matinee contest in NHL action.
  • Can the Coyotes get past the Sharks in this matchup?
  • Michael Leboff breaks things down and gives his top pick below.

Sharks vs. Coyotes Odds

Sharks Odds +112 [BET NOW]
Coyotes Odds -130 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 [BET NOW]
Time 4 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds as of Saturday at 1:55 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

If you ever wanted to get hammered and talk to someone about Martin Jones for five hours, I’m your man.

The San Jose Sharks goaltender is sort of a gambling nemesis of mine and it’s not like he hasn’t deserved that connotation. You see, Jones has this sort of mystical skill where he’ll be subpar for seemingly weeks on end and then all of a sudden he morphs into a super-goalie and causes me to lose a bet.

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San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are a deeply-flawed team but their main competition for the No. 4 seed in the West Division leaves a lot to be desired. It’s anybody’s guess who out of Arizona, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Minnesota, will (presumably) finish fourth behind Colorado, Vegas and St. Louis. What we do know is none of those five teams should be expected to contend for something special.

San Jose will likely be done in by a lack of depth and poor goaltending. After watching Martin Jones and Aaron Dell struggle in 2019/20, the Sharks — for some reason — traded for Devan Dubnyk to replace Dell as Jones’ deputy. For a team that desperately needed to upgrade its goaltending, Dubnyk somehow makes the situation even worse. Arguably no goaltenders in the NHL have struggled more than Jones and Dubnyk over the last two campaigns:

  • Martin Jones: 103 games played, -25.58 GSAx
  • Devan Dubnyk: 97 games played, -46.21 GSAx

It’s a bit odd that San Jose didn’t try and bring in a more reliable netminder because good goalie-play can help cover a team’s warts.

There are some things to like about the Sharks. They have a legitimate top-six, headlined by Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture and Evander Kane, plus two defenders who, at their peak, were world-beaters. Whether or not Brent Burns, or more notably, Erik Karlsson can get back to the elite level is up in the air, though.

No matter how you shake it or how high you are on the Sharks’ high-end players, there are a lot more questions than answers on this roster after last season. San Jose was abysmal at 5-on-5, finishing 30th and 25th in goal differential and expected goal rate, and those issues were exacerbated by the poor goaltending.

The silver lining is that the Arizona Coyotes aren’t a play-driving juggernaut, either.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes were remarkable in exactly one area last season: Goaltending. Almost the anti-thesis to the Sharks, the Coyotes rely on their goaltenders, Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, to bail them out. Arizona doesn’t have a prolific offense and the defense is patchwork at best, but the ‘Yotes figure to have one of the strongest goaltending tandems in the NHL.

The Coyotes finished 10th from the bottom in both goals and expected goals per 60 minutes last season and that was with Taylor Hall in the lineup. Hall has since left the Desert for Buffalo, so Arizona will need to rely on Phil Kessel, Nick Schmaltz, Conor Garland, Christian Dvorak, Derick Brassard and Clayton Keller to lead the line. All six of them are nifty supporting players, but none of them would be considered first-liners on a contender.

With that type of offense you can expect Rick Tocchet to set his team up defensively and try and play low-event games. Arizona will bet on Kuemper and Raanta to keep them in games long enough until they can scratch out a couple of goals.

Sharks-Coyotes Pick

The Coyotes closed as a -141 favorite on Thursday, but suffered a 4-3 shootout loss. At the time of writing, the Coyotes are -129 for Saturday’s matinee, so it appears that people are reacting a bit to San Jose’s season-opening win.

I’m not a believer in Arizona and can see things going south for the Coyotes pretty quickly, but it’s the deserving favorite in this game considering the mismatch in goal.

I don’t think this number is playable yet (our projected line is Arizona -125), but if it dips to -120, I’d take a bite on the Coyotes.

Pick: Arizona Coyotes -120

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