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San Jose Sharks vs. Florida Panthers - 11/20/14 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Florida Panthers (6-5-5) at San Jose Sharks (10-9-2)
Date & Time Thursday November 20, 2014, 10:30 PM (EST)
The Line
The Line: San Jose Sharks -195 / Florida Panthers +177 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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With snow pounding down on the Buffalo area on Tuesday the roads were so bad that the majority of fans were unable to make it to the arena to watch the Sabres take on the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks essentially didn’t show up as well, getting embarrassed in a 4-1 loss to one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League. It must be difficult for professional athletes to get fired up for a game that’s being played in front of absolutely no one, but the Sharks really can’t afford to lose games like this to a club like the Sabres. They out shot the Sabres 10-3 in the opening period but were unable to solve Michal Neuvirth in the frame. Neuvirth would leave the game in between periods with an undisclosed injury but the Sharks didn’t have much success against his replacement Jhonas Enroth. Buffalo would fire three goals past rookie goaltender Troy Grosenick and added an empty netter after the two clubs played a listless third period, sending the Sharks back home with a 4-1 loss. It’s hard to get too worked up over a regular season game but this is a club that has had some serious issues the last few seasons in the playoffs. There was a major shakeup with the leadership group of this club and more are certainly to come if things don’t change this season. San Jose has finished the regular season with over 100 points in seven of the last nine seasons (lockout year excluded), and the two times they failed to get there they had 96 and 99. The Sharks have been the model of consistency and regular season excellence for the last decade but they just can not get it done in April and May. Perhaps a little turmoil during the regular season will be good for this club because it seems like they just expect things to continue being easy like they are during the regular season and that’s never the case come playoff time. This is another interesting game for the Sharks because they head home after a lengthy seven game road trip, they’re coming off a loss to one of the worst teams in the league, and they return home to start a six game home stand against another lousy Eastern Conference foe. It will be a good test to see just how mentally prepared the Sharks are for this game.

The Florida Panthers followed up their big victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday with an expected loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. To their credit the Panthers actually came out and played a strong first period on the road, out shooting the Kings 13-8, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. Los Angeles dominated the second period, firing 17 shots at Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo and beating the veteran netminder four times in the period to take a 4-0 lead. Florida controlled the third period and managed to get the game back to 4-2 on goals by Jimmy Hayes and Jussi Jokinen, but the Kings finished them off with a power play goal late in the period to send them to a 5-2 defeat. Hayes has been a pleasant surprise for this club he’s just one of many of these young kids that is loaded with talent and potential. Gerard Gallant has a difficult job ahead of him this season but what’s promising is that he has these kids buying into the work that needs to be done to be successful at this level. Yes the Panthers were overwhelmed by the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the second period but their other two periods were actually pretty good. Finding out what it takes to win a hockey game like this is the next part of that learning curve. They’ll get another stiff test against the Sharks on Tuesday night and we’ll have to see if they can take advantage early against a club that’s coming home off a long road trip.

This is a tough game to call because of how inconsistent the Sharks have played to start the year and the number we’re looking at. Florida is going to lose a lot more games than they win this season but this isn’t the greatest spot for either one of these clubs. San Jose needs to prove something here though after that abysmal performance in Buffalo the other night. 

San Jose -1.5

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