The Vegas Golden Knights will return to action Thursday when they host the San Jose Sharks as home favorites at the sportsbooks for Game 1 of their Western Conference second-round playoff series.
Both teams will be well-rested, as the Golden Knights completed a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Kings on April 17 while the Sharks did the same thing against the Anaheim Ducks on April 18.
NHL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 3.5-2.2, Sharks. NHL picks on every game.
Why the Sharks Can Pay on the NHL Lines
You can make an argument San Jose's sweep of Anaheim was more impressive than the Knights' series victory over the L.A. because the Ducks came into the playoffs on a five-game winning streak and overtook the Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division.
There are no similarities between how San Jose and Vegas performed offensively in the first round, with the former scoring 16 goals to just seven for the latter. The Sharks also allowed just one more goal than the Golden Knights, with goalie Martin Jones stopping 128 of 132 shots for a .970 save percentage, second to only his counterpart in this matchup: Marc-Andre Fleury.
Why the Golden Knights Can Pay on the NHL Lines
Fleury may be considered the early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy considering how well he played against the Kings, turning away 127 of 130 shots for a .977 save percentage with two shutouts. He is coming off a career year statistically, which says a lot given he won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Vegas won three of its four regular-season meetings with San Jose, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, and two of them were decided in overtime. Fleury started the two regulation wins, with backup Malcolm Subban suffering the lone loss in OT and also picking up an OT victory in relief of third-stringer Maxime Lagace.
Smart Betting Pick
Whoever plays better defensively will advance to the Western Conference Final, and the Golden Knights figure to have an advantage based on how well they played against Los Angeles in the first round.
While the Sharks are better offensively than the Kings, that did not matter when these teams met in the regular season. Jones did not play particularly well, even giving up a highlight-reel, short-handed goal to William Karlsson that won the division for Vegas in the teams' meeting on March 31. The Golden Knights also have a strong home-ice edge, and that will help them win Game 1.
NHL Betting Trends
San Jose is 5-1 in its past six games.
The total has gone over in 12 of San Jose's past 18 games.
Vegas is 7-1 in its past eight games at home.
All NHL odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.