The Chicago Blackhawks won the series with the Minnesota Wild 3-2 but there was a clear pattern that emerged as they succeeded or failed based on who was in net for Minnesota. Can they find a way through Devan Dubnyk and cash on the NHL betting lines here?
The Minnesota Wild Can Win Because…
They continue to play their game and win. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that’s been better over the last couple of months in the Western Conference than the Wild. Since Devan Dubnyk came over, the Wild are 29-9-2 with him in net and he’s posted a 1.78 goals-against average along with a .936 save percentage. As a result, he became a Vezina Trophy finalist and he’s going to be the difference in this series.
In the first three meetings between the teams this season, Dubnyk had yet to arrive and the Blackhawks won all three meetings. They scored a whopping 13 goals in those contests. However, with Dubnyk, the Wild were 2-0 against Chicago and outscored them 5-1, so you might want to keep this in mind when looking at the NHL betting odds.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have had issues in net as they had to pull Corey Crawford early in their first-round series and then turned to Scott Darling, and then in Game 6 they pulled Darling and went with Crawford. It’s pretty clear that they don’t have a clear No. 1 but the Blackhawks do. That’s going to be the main difference.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They’ll have a lot of edges in this series, starting with home-ice advantage. The Wild are a good road team but still, going to Chicago in the playoffs is a whole different animal. The Blackhawks were 24-17 at home in the regular season and they’ve been even better in the playoffs. They’ve won all three of their home games so far, scoring at least three goals in each contest.
The other main factor the Blackhawks have is experience. We saw it come in handy against the Nashville Predators time and time again as the Blackhawks don’t panic at any point. And they also execute very well – even if they’re on the road and even if they’re trailing. They had multiple come-from-behind wins and even had to change goaltenders a couple of times. Even so, they stood tall and got the job done.
Minnesota beat the St. Louis Blues in Round 1 but the Blues are a team that tends to disappoint in the playoffs. Now the Wild are facing the opposite: a team that exceeds expectations. This could be too much for them.
I’m inclined to take a shot with the Wild with my NHL picks. This is a Blackhawks team that hasn’t looked up to snuff this season and easily could have lost the first round series to Nashville had the Predators not blown some late leads. Minnesota has the edge in net and they play great on the road, so home-ice advantage won’t be a huge factor. That being the case, take a shot with the Wild to pull the upset here.
NHL Pick: Wild +120 at The Greek