The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks are set for Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals on Thursday and if you’re interested in investing in the Blackhawks, you’ll have to lay -140 on the NHL betting lines.
The Minnesota Wild Can Win Because…
They won the final two meetings of the year. If you think that’s irrelevant because the Blackhawks won the first three meetings, think again. The difference was that the first three meetings were without Devan Dubnyk between the pipes and before the Wild picked him. In those three matchups, the Blackhawks outscored the Wild 13-6 and won all three times. However, in the final two meetings with Dubnyk between the pipes, the Wild won both times while outscoring the Blackhawks 5-1.
Chicago has some issues in net and those will start in Game 1. The Blackhawks have started with Corey Crawford in Game 1 of Round 1 and had to pull him by Game 3. Then Scott Darling let them down in Game 6, he got yanked and Crawford finished off the series. Any way you slice it, these guys aren’t very confident right now and both have shown some cracks in the armor. That means the Wild have a huge edge in net and it should be the difference in Game 1.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They dominate this series at home. The Blackhawks have won 10 of the last 12 times they’ve hosted Minnesota and even without the home-ice advantage, the Blackhawks have won 15 of the last 24 meetings overall. They know how to play this team and they’ll find a way through Dubnyk. After all, they managed to light up one Vezina Trophy finalist in the previous round, so meeting another one should be a problem.
The Blackhawks are much more battle tested coming into this round as the Wild had a relatively easy time with the St. Louis Blues in Round 1. However, the Blues have been playoff failures for the last few years and they don’t score any goals in the postseason. Chicago is loaded and has one of the strongest offenses out there. They are going to be a different animal.
Look for the Blackhawks to rely on their experience in Game 1. They’ve been here before and that’ll shine through on Thursday.
The Wild are on the road in this spot but don’t expect that to bother them in any way. This team has now won 14 of their last 16 road games overall and feels right at home playing away. They’re hot right now, they have the better goaltender and you get them as a dog on the NHL betting odds here. For me, that’s enough to take a shot with them with my NHL picks. I think this series is likely to be 1-1 after the first two games, so if we bet the Wild in both spots, we should profitable. But I expect them to set the tone in Game 1 and put a scare into the Blackhawks.
NHL Pick: Wild +120 at The Greek