It's a hotly anticipated clash of the Western titans when second place Chicago Blackhawks take on the first place Wild at Minnesota. This should be a great night for hockey as the two best teams in the Western Conference face-off and get down to it on Wednesday night.
Looking at the last 10 games, Minnesota
have the thinnest of advantages as they are 7-3-0 while Chicago are 6-3-1. That
likely won't matter one iota to Chicago though, as they have dominated this
series in recent years.
The Blackhawks are 6-1-1 against the Wild since the
start of the 2009–10 season, and they will be feeling enthused ahead of Wednesday
night, especially as in their most recent encounter where they skated out 4-2 winners. NHL odds makers offer another 4-2 Hawks win at +1600 and
you might also want to place your NHL picks on the same score reversed at the same
The Blackhawks take on Minnesota with an 18–8–4 record, but the Wild still
have the best record in the National Hockey League this term (two points ahead
of the Flyers). The fact that they're facing back-to-back games might shift the
balance in the Blackhawks’ favour, but it’s going to be close.
When great forms collide
You might want to back 3-2 Blackhawks win (at
+1200) as that has been the score in their last two games, or you might like to
back 3-1 (at +1600) or 3-0 (at +2800) to the Blackhawks as they have scored
three goals in their last three games. I’m staying away from a Hawks shutout, as
the have failed to keep a clean sheet so far this season.
Recently the Wild
were ridiculously hot to trot and had amassed a seven-game winning streak, but
that was rudely brought to an end in Winnipeg. That was a tight three goal game
that looked to be headed for overtime, with the scores tied 1-1 deep into the
third when Bryan Little converted a Dustin Byuglien pass with 5 minutes
All credit to the Jets as they also faced down a Minnesota powerplay
in the last minute of the period and keeper Ondrei Payelec blocked three big shots
to protect their win. Minnesota also had a seven game road victory streak
snapped by the Jets, so expect them to be in no mood to be given the run-around
by the Blackhawks.
Tough calls and tight odds
My heart says back in the Wild in this one
but medical staff might have a different opinion. Chicago has a clean bill of
health, but Minnesota will likely be missing forward Devin Setoguchi, center
Matt Cullen and defenseman Justin Falk. The NHL betting odds on an away win are -110 and
the odds on the points staying in Minnesota are also at -110. It looks like the
sportsbooks are expecting a close one.
Minnesota have a slight edge in the standings, where they are three points ahead of Chicago, but they have played an additional game.
Chicago will see this match as an opportunity to close the gap while Minnesota
will still be bristling from their Winnipeg defeat and will want to get back to
winning ways as soon as possible.
With the Wild resenting every single goal
conceded you might want to bet on this game ending Under 5.0 goals at +110,
while Over is at -130. The Wild are currently fourth in the league in goals
aloud (2.10) and their home record reads 10–4–1. As they’re sitting on top of the tree this close to Christmas I'm backing a
Prediction: Minnesota don’t quite run wild,
but take the game 4-2 available at +1600.