Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (14-10-1, +14.15 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
Maybe I tried to get too cute when I advised a contrarian play on Over 5 (+125) in Game 3. Sometimes you can outwit yourself when a steady constant is staring at you directly in the face. That steady constant is the preternatural play of Tuukka Rask and his corps of blueliners that might as well be made of concrete and granite as far as the Blackhawks are concerned.
Alas, Monday night saw us burn through three units when the Bruins skated off to a 2-0 victory and a 2-1 series lead. Let’s take a look at Wednesday night’s contest and see if we can get our NHL picks back on track.
What are your predictions for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup series? Share your thoughts in the NHL forum!
Let’s face it, Chicago is up against a wall and they will be pushed through it if they drop Game 4 in Boston. They have no answer to the riddle that is Tuukka Rask and the Bruins defense. The Blackhawks are 0-11 in power play opportunities against Boston and have only one goal in their last 25 man-advantage situations spanning back to Game 1 against the Kings. Ugh!
Head coach Joel Quenneville has to do something in Game 4 because this is it. He realizes Boston is rolling and Rask is in the midst of an historic run. He needs to shake his offense up because you can’t win if you don’t score. There are rumors he may decide to go for broke and put all his heavy hitters -check that- big scorers on one line. Jonathan Toews is playing like a man with an injury while Patrick Kane is among the missing. Maybe putting the pair together with Patrick Sharp could be the spark that ignites the flame for the Hawks?
Big Bad Bruins
Getting a puck in the net against the Bruins is about as likely these days as walking into a bear’s den and plucking a cub from her mother’s watchful eye. Boston has killed 26 straight penalties dating back to the Pittsburgh series and Rask has now gone over six consecutive periods without allowing a goal. The tandem of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg has been masterful in front of Rask. They have shut down the offense of the Hawks like a rollover at rush hour.
Everything is clicking for the Bruins and if it were not for the exceptional play of Corey Crawford, who is getting overshadowed by the epic performances of Rask, the scores would indeed be even more lopsided. Since their jaw-dropping comeback in Game 7 against Toronto, this has the look of a team of destiny.
I’m not sure just how long a team like Chicago can be stymied but all you need to do is consider the Penguins inability to light the lamp against Boston. I believe at some point the goaltenders will tire and the goals will come but I’m not going to chase my tail just because my prediction may have come a game too early when I tossed three units to the wind on Over in Game 3.
Nor am I going to overanalyze this one, and I suggest you don't either. Boston’s ferocious defense coupled with their dominance in the faceoff circle is too much for me to ignore. When considering my NHL picks here, I have to factor in Marion Hossa’s mysterious injury as well. The Blackhawks may have been the best team in the regular season but all NHL odds say the Bruins rule in the playoffs.