Battle of the Previous Two Stanley Cup Champs
The Kings will host the Blackhawks this evening at the Staples Center in Los Angeles with the opening face-off slated for 9:05 PM ET. This will be Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals series in which the Kings hold a 3-2 lead. According to NHL betting odds the Kings are a -130 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0. These teams have seen the last 4-games of the series all go over the total, and there's been an average of 7.0 goals per game scored in the first 5-games of this Conference Final.
Check out David Lawrence's Blackhawks vs. Kings Game 6 NHL Picks as well.
Hawks Stay Alive
The Chicago Blackhawks staved off elimination in a thrilling 5-4 win in double overtime on Wednesday. After jumping out to a 3-1 lead early in the 2nd period the Hawks allowed the Kings to score 3 unanswered goals, and trailed 4-3 entering the final stanza. However, they tied it early in the 3rd period, and then scored the game winner in the 2nd overtime session. Patrick Kane came alive and had a huge game by contributing 4-assists. Brandon Saad arguably was Chicago's best player on Wednesday scoring a goal, adding 2 assists, and was a huge +4 in the contest. Cory Crawford had his best outing since the series opener stopping 40 of 44 shots on goal. Although there's still some concern with his erratic play in this series, and it reared its ugly head in the 2nd period on Wednesday when he allowed a couple of soft goals.
Recent Road Woes a Huge Obstacle
Once the dust settled after an emotional Game 5 win, reality settled in for the Blackhawks regarding the challenge ahead. Chicago has gone a horrible 7-20 in their last 27 road games, including a dismal 2-6 in the playoffs. They will be facing a Kings team which has gone a stellar 55-24 in their last 79 home games. Obviously in order to keep their season alive, they must figure out how to win at least one more game on the road.
Kings in Control and Remain Confident
Despite the gut wrenching double overtime loss in Game 5, the Kings remain very confident in their ability to reach their 2nd Stanley Cup Finals over the last 3-years. Although Jonathan Quick hasn't been his absolute best in this Conference Final, he's certainly had the upper hand over his counterpart Corey Crawford. Both Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter have continued to play at an extremely high level for the Kings during the postseason. Kopitar is currently on top of the points leaderboard in the 2014 NHL Playoffs with 23-points in 19-games. The Kings averaged a mere 2.4 goals per game during the regular season which ranked 26th in the NHL. During the playoffs they averaged 3.4 goals per contest which is the best among all 16 playoff qualifiers. The recent scoring spree during the playoffs, coupled with the fact that this club allowed the fewest goals in the NHL during the regular season, has made them an extremely dangerous opponent to face in this postseason.
Kings Intangible Factors
The Kings are doing a lot of little things right during the course of going 11-5 in their previous 16 playoff games, which now finds them a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. They're power play has been outstanding this postseason converting on 25.4% of their opportnities, including a sizzling 33% in the Conference Finals. They've also outscored their opponents in the 3rd period in the 2014 playoffs by a wide margin of 24-14.
When formulating our NHL picks, I believe we just need to keep it simple. The Kings have had one of the stronger home ice advantages over the last couple of seasons, and the Blackhawks have inexplicably struggled on the road over their last half of the schedule. This is also a Kings team which has won 8 of 9 playoff series the last 3-years so they know how to close the deal, regardless in the quality of the opponent.