NHL Playoff Picks- Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawk
All the action from the United Center is slated to get underway at 6:30 (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Wild Betting Overview
The Wild finished the regular season with 55 points but fell back into the eighth seed in the Western Conference by stumbling down the stretch with just four wins in their last 10 games. They paid the price for this slide by drawing the best team in the West, but proved they belong by taking Chicago to overtime in Game 1 before falling 2-1 as 217 road underdogs. This could have been their best chance to stun No.1 seed on the road as things are bound to get tougher from here.
Minnesota has had problems putting the puck in the net all season long with a goals-per-game average of 2.5. Zach Parise has done his part with a team-high 18 goals and 20 assists, but the team only has three other players with 10 or more goals this year. The weight of keeping this team from an early exit from in the postseason could fall on goalie Josh Harding after Niklas Backstrom was a late scratch for Tuesday night’s game. He did an excellent job in relief by stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced except the one that counted the most in overtime. Backstrom remains day to day for Game 2 with a lower body injury.
Blackhawks Betting Overview
Chicago has proven it can beat you by lighting-up the scoreboard on offense or by shutting you down on the other end of the ice. It finished the regular season ranked second in the NHL in scoring with 3.1 goals a game and first in goals allowed with a goals-against-average of 2.0. Their big guns got off to a slow start in this series, but Corey Crawford stood tall in goal by stopping all but one of Minnesota’s 27 shots. That goal came early in the first period before Crawford closed the door for good. He will get the start in Game 2 with Ray Emory still on the mend from a back injury.
It is doubtful that players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will be held in check again on Friday night after combining for 46 goals during the regular season. Marian Hossa got the Blackhawks on the board early in the second period on a power play goal that was assisted by Kane and Bryan Bickell ended Game 1 a little over 16 minutes into the extra period. You get the feeling that this bunch is due for a breakout game on Friday night after being held to three or less goals in five of their last six games.
Wild vs. Blackhawks- NHL Betting Odds and Trends
Bet 365 has opened their NHL betting odds with Minnesota as a 219 road underdog on the money line with the Blackhawks listed as 242 home favorites. The total for this game has been set at 5.
The Wild are 1-5 in their last six games after being held to fewer than two goals in their previous game and 11-30 in their last 41 games against a team with a winning record. The total has stayed under in five of their last six games against a team with a winning record.
The Blackhawks are 6-1 in their last seven games after scoring two or less goals in their previous outing and 7-2 in their last nine games playing of two day’s rest. The total has stayed under in their last five playoff games in the opening round.
Head-to-head in this matchup, the home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings with the total staying under in four of the five games. Chicago went 2-0-1 against Minnesota in the regular season.
What do we think about the first round playoff series between the Maple Leafs and the Bruins?
Wild vs. Blackhawks- Free NHL Pick
Give credit to Harding for stepping up big with a solid effort in a losing cause, but it is doubtful he will be able to do this two games in-a-row especially at the United Center. Even if Backstrom can work his way back into the net, the Wild will be hard-pressed to keep Chicago out of their zone all night long. The free NHL pick for this one is the Blackhawks -1.5 on the puck line at +120.
Chicago 4 - Minnesota 1 (lines provided by Bet365)
YTD NHL Free Picks Record: 30-18-2