Here's our Money Line NHL pick for Monday's matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks. The Western Conference Final has become a best-of-three.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They finally got their big guns going. The Blackhawks have had a tough time scoring goals in this series but they managed to get five past Frederik Andersen in Game 4. That could be a signal that things are changing. Up front, Brandon Saad (one goal, two assists), Jonathan Toews (one goal, one assist), Patrick Kane (one goal) and Marian Hossa (one assist) all contributed. From the blue line, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook both had points. Now that these guys have started to click, the remaining three games should be that much easier for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are also getting strong efforts from Corey Crawford, who finished with 47 saves in Game 4. He faced a whopping 21 shots in overtime and turned every single one of them away. Maybe for the first time this series, it could be said that he outplayed Andersen. The Blackhawks also didn’t get beat as badly in terms of hits (just 60-52) and really, had they not experienced a historical collapse to give up three goals in 37 seconds in the third period, they would have won much more easily.
At any rate, they seem to have their mojo going, so take them as a dog on the NHL lines in this spot.
The Anaheim Ducks Can Win Because…
They have played like they belong. All series long, the Ducks have shown that they aren’t the playoff patsy of years past. They have continued to claw and fight, and they’ve been quite impressive. Even in Game 4, they were trailing 3-1 and could have packed it in. However, they kept fighting and nearly pulled out the win.
In Game 5, they are back at home and that’s important as it gives them the last change. That means they’ll be much more suited to match up the Ryan Kesler line on the Jonathan Toews line to keep them in check as they did in the first two games.
As the series goes on, the Ducks depth should start to come to the forefront. The Blackhawks are really riding four defenseman into the ground as they aren’t even playing the third unit much. It’s hard to imagine that not becoming a factor.
The truth is the Ducks have won their two games rather comfortable but the Blackhawks two wins have been in overtime. Two goals the other way and this series could have been over. Look for the Ducks to continue playing the same way, which should give Chicago plenty of problems.
I’m going to roll with the Ducks in this spot as I do feel they’ve been the better team this series. They have more depth, they keep pounding the Blackhawks with hits and the Blackhawks lack of a third defensive pairing should catch up with them. This Stanley Cup Playoffs series still probably goes seven games but I like the Ducks in this spot.
NHL Pick: Ducks -129 at Pinnacle