If you are goal scoring fanatic than you probably didn’t enjoy last night’s Capitals/Rangers game all that much. If you like playoff hockey at its finest and winning picks, than you really enjoyed last night’s game. Although the Capitals and Rangers game finished 1-0 in favor of Washington, that is precisely the kind of hockey these two teams have been taught to play all season long whether you like it or not. Besides, we hit our pick of Washington to the win the game so there is definitely no complaints here! The Capitals are displaying an uncanny ability to limit scoring chances and it has to be frustrating the already struggling Rangers offense beyond belief. That is perfectly okay with me and it looks like this series is going to be a low-scoring, tight-checking affair all the way to the bitter end. There are two games on tonight’s schedule and both are Western Conference semifinal matchups. For tonight’s pick I will go to the State of Hockey to find us another winner between the Wild and Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – UNDER 5 (-115)
The second round series between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks shifts to the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota as the Wild look to avoid a devastating 3-0 deficit while the Blackhawks remain Minnesota’s playoff nightmare that just won’t go away. For the third straight season, Chicago leads the Wild 2-0 in a playoff series, however history suggests the change of venue is of great benefit to the hometown Wild as they were able to knot last year’s series at 2-2 after coming back to home ice down a pair of games. Home ice is usually good to Minnesota anyway and the emergence of Devan Dubnyk made that possible this season. His 1.78 goals against average and .936 save percentage as a member of the Wild this season earned him a Vezina Trophy nomination, something no one saw when he was dealt for a draft pick to Minnesota from Arizona mid-season. While Dubnyk has stumbled somewhat in these playoffs, it has been Minnesota’s costly errors that have been the source of their misfortunes in this series, not poor goaltending. If Minnesota cleans up their mistakes and plays a better brand of hockey at home, which they have done all season, this series could shift in momentum pretty quickly. Another reason why Minnesota trails 2-0 is the stellar play of Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford after he had a rough first round against the Predators. Crawford has surrendered just four goals in two games this series and made 30 of 31 saves in Chicago’s Game 2 victory Sunday night. He owns a 6-2 record along with a .950 save percentage over his last eight games against Minnesota. Chicago improved to 28-0 when leading after two periods on Sunday which tells me that they rarely give up any third period goals. This is bad news for Minnesota but good news for this pick. I fully expect the Wild to play much better on home ice and I believe a better effort is in store for Devan Dubnyk as well. With Crawford on a roll and the Chicago defense playing like it is, I don’t expect them to be giving up goals in bunches either. Let’s ride the UNDER 5 for tonight’s Game 3 all the way to victory.