If you were fortunate enough to catch the Tampa Bay/New York game last night you witnessed the most entertaining game of this year’s postseason. The two teams traded goals back and forth all night and the Rangers tied the game with just under two minutes left in regulation time which sent the two teams to overtime, which is exactly what this game deserved. However, the extra frame did not last very long as Nikita Kucherov ended Game 3 on a fantastic solo rush which sent the hometown Lightning fans home happy with a 2-1 series edge on the defending Eastern Conference Champions. This series, like the one we will be covering with this pick, is likely to go right to the bitter end as there isn’t much that separates teams that go this deep in to the postseason. We will shift back to the Western Conference finals tonight for our Game 3 pick between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Anaheim Ducks @ Chicago Blackhawks
My Pick – UNDER 5 (+120)
The Western Conference finals switches gears to the Windy City tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks look to capitalize on stealing home ice away from the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 in tonight’s Game 3 from the Madhouse on Madison. Marcus Kruger was the hero in Game 2 after he buried a rebound in the third overtime to earn a series split for the Blackhawks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. If this pick looks familiar, that’s because it is the exact same pick I used for Game 2 of this series but with slightly better odds. That pick on Tuesday night resulted in a push which is just fine in my books as we can use that 3-2 score as a buffer while still getting great odds on our side. It’s been very clear in the first two games of this series that the offense Chicago received from its blueline in the first two rounds of the postseason has dwindled as Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya have logged huge minutes for a thin Blackhawks blueline and considering they endured a cross-country flight after a triple overtime game on Tuesday, this group cannot be the same dynamic unit they were earlier in the playoffs. Their defensive abilities could also be hindered by the physical and mental toll on their bodies, however I am taking the opposite stance that it will be their offensive abilities that will take the biggest hit. Anaheim is killing penalties at an 84.6% clip in the playoffs so it’s also safe to say that the Chicago powerplay is going to be in tough once again tonight. It has been the goalies that have stolen the show early in this series as Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen combined to make 113 saves on 118 shots in Game 2, yielding a combined save percentage of .958. Both goalies are clearly playing with the upmost of confidence and we all know that is a massive part of being a goaltender in the months of April, May and June. These teams are averaging a high number of goals per game but that is the result of lesser competition in their first two series’ and not a reflection of how hard fought this one is and will be. At the end of the day Western Conference hockey is built on defense and that will once again be the case in tonight’s Game 3. Take the UNDER 5 at a great price and enjoy another hard-fought game, this time from the United Center in Chicago.