Kings Attempt to Break the Hex Versus the Hawks
The Blackhawks will host the Kings on Wednesday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois with the opening face-off slated for 8:05 PM ET. This will be Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals series in which Chicago holds a 1-0 lead. According to NHL betting odds Chicago is a -150 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0 for your NHL picks consideration. These clubs have seen just 6 of the previous 26-games played in Chicago go 'over' the total. The Blackhawks have dominated the Kings in recent years going 20-6 in their last 26 head-to-head battles, including winning 5 of 6 from Los Angeles during the Western Conference Finals during the last 2-years.
No Reward for a Superb Effort
Despite losing the opening game of the series, the Kings can take away some positives to build on heading into Game 2. They held an explosive Chicago team to just 20 shots on goal during the 3-1 loss. Although goaltender Jonathan Quick allowed 3-goals on a low volume of shots, he really couldn’t be faulted on any of those Chicago scores. If the Kings can play a similar type of defensive game tonight, they will give themselves an excellent opportunity to win. There’s no reason to believe that they won’t, since they were 2nd in the NHL during the regular season in holding opponent to just 26.2 shots on goal per game. The 26 shots on goal by the Kings were a bit deceiving considering they pretty much controlled the territorial play after the first 10-minutes of the game. They were able to sustain consistent offensive pressure, but must do a better job of getting shots through to the net, and creating better shooting lanes on the power play. Despite the loss on Sunday the Kings have gone 5-2 in their last 7 road games during these playoffs.
Hawks Will Have to Improve in Game 2
Chicago set out what it accomplished to do in taking Game 1 of this series 3-1. However, even the most ardent of Blackhawks fans will admit they’re team can be much better than they showed, and will have to be in order to win this series versus a high quality opponent. They allowed the Kings to dictate the pace and control the play for the majority of Game 1. The Hawks were able to cash in on 2 of their 4 power play attempts which ultimately provided the difference in the outcome. Cory Crawford continues to be outstanding for the Hawks during the postseason. Crawford has posted a stellar 1.90 GAA and .934 save percentage in 13 starts during the 2014 playoffs. Chicago has now gone a terrific 50-17 in their last 67 home games, including a perfect 7-0 during the 2014 postseason.
Chicago played far from their best game in the series opener and still was able to come away with a 3-1 win. This is a Hawks team that’s gone 18-2 at home during the last 2 postseasons. I look for Chicago to be much better tonight than they were on Sunday, and for Cory Crawford to continue to play at a very high level.
Free NHL Pick: Chicago -150 over Los Angeles