Wild vs. Blackhawks to go 'Over' the Total in Game 5

Ross Benjamin

Sunday, May 11, 2014 12:25 PM GMT

Minnesota and Chicago resume their closely contested Stanley Cup Playoff series on Sunday night. Our sports picks expert Ross Benjamin analyzes this contest, and releases a NHL free pick.

Down to a Best of 3 Series
The Blackhawks will host the Wild on Sunday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois with the opening face-off slated for 9:05 PM ET. This will be Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series that’s all tied up at 2-games apiece. According to NHL betting odds Chicago is a -240 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0. The home team has won the last 7-games between these teams. These clubs haven’t seen any of their previous 6 meetings at Chicago stay under the total.

[gameodds]7/289652/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Fighting Back with a Wild Fury
The Minnesota Wild lost the first 2-games of this series at Chicago in a very decisive manner. At that juncture, it looked as though the 7-game series win in the previous round over Colorado had just sapped them of all their competitive energy. However, they deserve all the credit afforded them after bouncing back with a couple of impressive wins at home over the defending Stanley Cup champions to even the series. The two wins by the Wild in Minnesota were certainly no fluke. They outscored Chicago 8-2 in the 2-games, and held the high flying Hawks to just a combined 39-shots on goal. There’s no question the Wild have been an outstanding team at the Excel Energy Center this year. It’s on the road where they’ve struggled going 18-29 on the year, including 1-5 so far this postseason. On a more positive note, Minnesota has gone 11-3 this season following a home win by 2-goals or more.

We Offer You Another NHL Pick for Wild vs. Blackhawks Game 5!

Getting Back to Playing Blackhawks Hockey
As I previously mentioned earlier in this piece, the Hawks accumulated a grand total of just 39 shots on goal in Games 3 and 4 of this series. The 19 shots in Game 3 tied their season low, and the 39 shots were the lowest of the year during a 2-game span. Putting things in perspective, the Hawks are averaging 32.4 shots on goal per game, and are averaging 3.2 goals per game. It’s no secret that they have to reestablish sustained pressure in the offensive zone like they did in the first 2-games of the series. They allowed a struggling goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov to regain some of his confidence back, virtually as a result of inactivity more than anything else. Contrary to the Wild’s road struggles, the Hawks are an excellent 31-14 at home this season, including a perfect 5-0 in the playoffs. Chicago has also gone over the total in all 8-games this season following a loss by 2-goals or more to a division opponent.

NHL Odds Favoring the Chicago Blackhawks!

Final Analysis
I look for the Wild to be much better than they were in the first 2-games in Chicago when they played on their heels. I also look for the Blackhawks to be vastly better than they showed in the 2-losses in Minnesota. This one has all the makings of an absolute nail biter that will possibly be decided in overtime. I have the smallest of leans for this game to play on the high side of the total.

Free Pick:  Minnesota/Chicago to go over the total of 5.0