Sharks smell Avs blood

San Jose Sharks’ trip to the Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Avalanche looks the pick of the games in the early hours of Thursday morning, with both sides holding genuine claims for Divisional honours.

San Jose lie in third place in the Pacific Division just three points behind Calgary Flames, while Colorado occupy third spot in the Central Division, trailing Winnipeg Jets by six points.

San Jose starting to get going

The Sharks have perhaps taken their time to justify the hype that came with the pre-season acquisition of Erik Karlsson but they are a side at least heading in the right direction right now, whereas their upcoming rivals seem to have gone off the rails.

Peter DeBoer’s men are currently priced at 17.00 to win their first Stanley Cup this season, whereas the Avs have drifted to 21.00 on the back of a dismal run of form, with no obvious signs of that changing any time soon.

With just three points to make up, San Jose are priced at 3.50 to clinch the Pacific Division, alongside Vegas Golden Knights, with the Flames the 3.00 favourites, and the Sharks can claim another two points to keep the pressure on.

Admittedly, Joe Pavelski and co do go into this match on the back of an 8-5 defeat at Calgary’s Saddledome but their recent form has generally been good, winning seven of their last 11 games.

Colorado in free fall

In stark contrast, Colorado’s impressive early season form seems a distant memory with the Avs having won just two of their last 11 games, and go into the clash having lost their last five.

Although the two most recent defeats came after overtime, they were both suffered at home against struggling sides Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

They were also recently beaten in regulation at home to Chicago as well as another struggler in Arizona and, with goals having dried up to a degree, it is difficult to see them coming out of their rut against the Sharks.

Devils can make Dallas see stars

New Jersey Devils have found some form of late to reignite a push for the play-offs but their resurgence should be put to the test when they take on the Dallas Stars, the team they beat to win their second Stanley Cup back in 2000.

The Devils showed a defensive strength to get this campaign off to a solid enough start but they have since been found out, and at nine points adrift of the wildcard positions, have plenty of work to do if they hope to continue in the post-season.

However, they have picked up form of late to offer renewed hope, winning their last three and four of the last five, and go to Dallas on the back of successive shutout wins over Carolina and Vancouver.

Their away form has been a particular problem so far but a recent 5-2 victory at Stanley Cup contenders Boston, priced at 19.00 to go all the way, should provide a confidence boost for the trip.

The Stars do boast an impressive record on home territory (12-5-2) but their play-off run is stuttering of late, largely due to a lack of goals – Dallas have only scored more than two goals once in their last seven games – and at 2.50, a resurgent Devils side can capitalise to upset the odds.

Tampa to continue Lightning up NHL

Tampa Bay Lightning are lighting up the NHL right now, with an impressive hot streak that has seen them cut into 4.50 for outright glory, while they are nailed on at 1.25 to win the Atlantic Division, having forged into a 10-point lead over Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Lightning have won 14 games and suffered just one overtime loss (at Central Division leaders Winnipeg) since November 29, amassing a league-leading 168 goals along the way, 27 more than next best Calgary.

Nikita Kucherov is one of the form players of the league right now, racking up 13 points in the last four games to take control of the NHL’s points leaderboard with 65 in total, three clear of Mikko Rantanen.

Next up is a trip to a somewhat resurgent, if still struggling, Los Angeles Kings but that should hold no fears for a team that has already won 14 times on the road, with just three defeats in regulation.

If the match price of 1.38 is a little too restrictive for the win, go for goals with the Lightning scoring at least four goals in all barring one of their last seven games and over 4.5 is available at 3.10.