Swinger's 2014 NHL Playoff Record (9-12, -2.55 units)
When last we capped the NHL postseason we cashed two of three with the Rangers closing out the Flyers and the Kings returning +120 in NHL odds as they upset the Sharks. Our lone loss came in the form of the Colorado Avalanche as they fell to the Minnesota Wild 5-4 and cost us a sweep. All in all, we earned +0.80 units and inched closer towards respectability.
Rangers vs. Penguins
The Rangers just finished a grueling first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers where they finally dispatched the boys from the City of Brotherly Love with a nail biting 2-1 victory. The Penguins have had the luxury of resting and healing due to their 4-3 road victory over the feisty Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6. Both teams gained entrance into the second round of the NHL playoffs but they also came away with plenty of bumps and bruises in the process.
The teams split their regular season series at two games apiece with New York winning the latest meeting on February 7th at the Igloo by the score of 4-3. But that’s ancient history now as the clubs prepare for a best of seven which could easily go the distance. But the Penguins are now healthy at the right time and have all their stars aligned with Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin and James Neal in uniform and ready to roll. Sidney Crosby had plenty of helpers in the series against Columbus but has now gone 10 playoff games without a goal. Similarly, Rick Nash of the Rangers has just one tally in 19 postseason contests.
The key here is that Evgeni Malkin has finally shaken off the rust as evidenced by his hat trick in Game 6 of the series clincher over the Blue Jackets. In addition, while I’m not a fan of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, particularly in the postseason, his counterpart Henrik Lundqvist was not the All-World tender of the twine in the series against Philly. While Lundqvist is clearly the better of the two, his recent solid play with only flashes of brilliance, is not enough to overcome the juggernaut that is Pittsburgh and makes our NHL pick in this one rather easy.
NHL Picks: Play Pittsburgh -155 in your NHL picks at Bet365.com.
Wild vs. Blackhawks
Minnesota has to be spent after their shocking upset of the Colorado Avalanche. They took the Avs to seven games and did the unthinkable when they scored a 5-4 victory in hostile territory and moved on the face the Hawks. Their opponents have had since April 27th to rest their weary bones as they broke free of a two game deficit to dominate in the next four culminating in a 5-1 blowout over St. Louis in front of a raucous Chicago crowd.
This series is a rematch from last year’s first-round when the Blackhawks handily defeated Minnesota in the first-round four games to one. The Wild is coming into this one after a short turnaround and will have to be firing on all cylinders if they are to have a chance. The status of their goaltender Darcy Kuemper is up in the air as he left midway through the third period to be relieved by veteran Ilya Bryzgalov who made one stop and got the win.
The Blackhawks are catching the Wild at the perfect time. They are going to have an adrenaline dump in this one after their spellbinding series with Colorado. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is on fire after shutting out the Blues in Game 3 and turning aside 35 shots in their series clinching 5-1 win. When it comes to placing your sports picks tonight, don’t overthink this one and don’t be afraid to lay the lumber.
NHL Picks: Play Chicago -200 at WilliamHill.com.