Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Blackhawks To Square Series with Blues

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

Apologizing in advance if this is redundant from prior NHL Picks articles, but St. Louis and Chicago just played their third one-goal differential contest and the score was indicative of the game.

St. Louis won Game 3 in the third period, thanks to more aggressive offense and ultimately frustrating Patrick Kane into taking double minor penalty, which led the Blues scoring the winning goal with just over six minutes left on the power play.

What made this all the harder to believe it was the first time in 75 games in which the Blackhawks took a lead into the third period and lost in regulation time (70-0-4) according to Stats Inc.

The NHL odds over at Bookmaker have Chicago opening 10 cents higher than the last game at -160 with total Un5 (-120). Do the Blackhawks draw even or will St. Louis head home looking to wrap up series?


St. Louis Just Has to Be More Aggressive on Offense Earlier
The Blues really played and tremendous contest on Sunday. They very good defensively, received exceptional goaltending from Brian Elliott (44 saves) to withstand earlier onslaught from Chicago, with 34 shots on goal the first two periods.

In the last stanza, St. Louis trailing 2-1, upped the pace and got Chicago's defense on edge and was in complete control the first 15 minutes of the period where they took the lead.

The Blues were fourth in goals-allowed during the regular season and they are playing the same exact way, with Hawks high-powered attack neutralized with only five scores. If St. Louis wants to return to the Scottrade Center with 3-1 lead, playing with more aggression on offense sooner might do the trick. Hard to argue with the success Ken Hitchcock's team is having, nevertheless, the difference between the two clubs is wafer-thin, thus attempting to take matters into your own hands in not a bad strategy.

Chicago Not Getting it Done 5-on-5
One of the largest edges the Blackhawks have enjoyed in being a perennial power and winning three Stanley Cups is when they faced opposing teams at even strength. Sixth of the last seven Cup champions finished in the top four of scoring in 5-on-5 hockey. The only one that has not is last year's Chicago squad which was not that far off at seventh. This year they have fallen to 20th, their lowest position in eight seasons and the lack of balanced scoring and not the same depth as previous seasons is the obvious culprit.

In this series, a hockey analytics website known as war-on-ice.com, has something they call - high-danger scoring chances - and in this statistic, the Blues hold an overwhelming 35-18 difference and lead in this department for scoring also at 3-1.

Chicago needs to regain control of this number and do a better job of not just firing shots, but working to generate better attempts and erode Elliott's confidence while building their own.

What to Expect and Winner
If you have watched these confrontations start to finish, the team which was in charge of the actual contests for at least 60 percent of the time has lost each game. The club that has won has made a play or two at the right time ended up being the deciding factor.

Really impossible to this changing much if not at all. The magic number for Chicago is three, since they are 6-32 this season when reaching at least three goals. Though the situation is not good for the Blackhawks, let's not lose sight of fact this team knows how to win when it matters most and is 43-14 in Games 4-7 since Joel Quenneville has taken over the coaching reins in the Windy City. For NHL picks, it is the Hawks who makes one more play and even the series up at 2-2.

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Free NHL Pick: Blackhawks -155
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