The Stanley Cup will be in the building tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks look to capture their third title in the last six years but tonight they have the opportunity to accomplish something that they haven’t done since 1938 and that is win the cup in front of their home crowd. With a win tonight Chicago becomes the best dynasty since the 1980s brought us four straight cups from the New York Islanders but there is no question the Lightning will not be going down without a fight and tonight figures to be an epic hockey game from the United Center in Chicago. With no more than two games left in the NHL season I wanted to tell all of our followers that it has been a pleasure delivering NHL picks your way all season long and if tonight does end up being my last pick of the season please make sure to return next year and have a happy and prosperous offseason.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Chicago Blackhawks
My Pick – UNDER 5 (+105)
My theory on do or die games is that the risk-taking takes a dip while goaltending and defense shine, thus goals will be at a premium in tonight’s Game 6 from Chicago. The buzz is certainly vibrant in Chicago as it has been for most of the postseason and the good news for Chicago fans is that this team has been here before and this core group of players knows how to win in big-game situations. On the flip side you have a Lightning team that has been with the Blackhawks every step of the way, as the five one-goal games in this series might suggest, so the fact that the Stanley Cup will be in the building tonight remains exciting, but not guaranteed to be presented by a long shot. Despite taking a physical beating the entire playoffs the Chicago defense group led by the top four of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya have been a huge part in holding Tampa Bay to just a single goal in each of the last two games while allowing more than two in just two of the five games this series. That is huge considering Tampa Bay was the highest scoring team in the league this season and also the best team on home ice and we saw all year long how dynamic this offense is. Tampa Bay’s defensive play has been equal to the task as well as they have held Patrick Kane goalless in the first five games and have limited Jonathan Toews to just three points in the series. Chicago has managed to score more than two goals in a game on just one occasion and their three wins in this series have all come by a 2-1 final score. Ben Bishop and Corey Crawford both enter tonight’s contest with solid 2.20 goals against averages but it’s clearly been team defense on both sides that have prevailed, something I don’t see changing much this evening. Also keep in mind Steven Stamkos, like Kane, has also been held without a goal in this series and it’s really unfortunate to think the Lightning may lose this series without seeing their Captain and best player record a goal, which is sure to hang over his head until he one day hoists the cup unless the Lightning can rattle off back-to-back wins to win their first cup since 2003. Either way, I am looking for another low-scoring affair this evening where defense is set to remain strong and goal scoring will be rare. Take the UNDER 5 tonight and enjoy what could be the last game of the 2014/2015 NHL season.