NHL Picks: Kings vs. Blackhawks WCF Game 1

PJ Laferla

Friday, May 31, 2013 2:33 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Kings will be on the road for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as they prepare to go up against the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in a best of seven series.


NHL Picks: Kings vs. Blackhawks Game 1

The two teams will face off at 5pm EST from the United Center in Chicago and the game can be seen live on national television with broadcast coverage provided by the NBC Sports Network.

The bet365 Oddsmakers have positioned the home team as -150 favorites on the money line, with a return of +130 for bettors backing the Kings. The Kings are 8-3 in their last 11 overall, but just 1-11 in their last 12 played on the road.

For puck line bettors, the Blackhawks are giving up -1 ½ goals with a generous return of +205 on the NHL odds. Taking Los Angeles +1 ½ comes with a high cost of -245. The Blackhawks have won 7 of 10 against the Kings when hosting them at the United Center.

The games total is coming in at 5 goals with a price of -145 on the under, while over offers a nice return of +125. In the last 55 head-to head meetings between these adversaries, 33 games have stayed under the posted total.

Now, let’s take a closer look at both teams so we can determined if it’s the Kings or Blackhawks that hold better value for our NHL Picks in this Game 1 matchup.

The Kings are big, abrasive and a rough team that is seemingly built for the postseason; and as a result, while Chicago may have been the dominant team throughout the regular season, Los Angeles levels the playing field with the intangible factors they bring to the ice.

However, they must find ways to win on the road - something that was not a problem last season during their Stanley Cup run when they captured 2-0 series leads in each of their playoff matchups, which all started away from the Staples Center. They have produced just one win on the road this postseason, but the team playing on the highway in this head-to-head matchup is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.

Chicago brings a team on the ice with greater overall skill than the Kings – especially on offense; and they are clearly the best team in the NHL on the transition, shifting from offense to defense in a microsecond. Additionally, their penalty kill has been nothing short of sensational with a 97.6 percentage rate.

The Blackhawks are a perfect 4-0 in their last four Western Conference Finals games and 10-3 in their last 13 matchups played on a Saturday. They have struggled a bit against teams from the Pacific Division, going just 1-4 in the last five.

[gameodds]7/237677/43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

After facing elimination against the Red Wings, I believe the swagger carried by the Blackhawks is gone and it has now converted into desperation.

Meanwhile, the Kings are right where they want to be and even though they start this series on the road, I think they are the team riding all the momentum. For this reason, I am backing the Kings as +130 underdogs in Game 1.

NHL Pick: Kings +130 at bet365