NHL Hockey Betting: Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild

NHL Hockey Betting:  Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild

Heading in to the Chicago Blackhawks’ best of seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Minnesota Wild the hockey zeitgeist was expecting a classic battle. So far it hasn’t worked out that way. The Blackhawks are up 2-0 as the series returns to St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. To say this is a big game for the Wild is a serious understatement. While coming back from an 0-3 series deficit isn’t unprecedented in the NHL it isn’t easy either. It’s not inaccurate to say that this is the biggest game of the season for the Wild and can make or break this series.

The Wild handled the St. Louis Blues in the first round with their grinding, physical play. ‘On paper’ it would seem that the same formula would be effective against Chicago but it hasn’t worked out that way. Game One was a strange game–the Blackhawks opened up a 3-0 lead only to see the Wild tie the game 3-3. A late second period goal by Chicago made it 4-3 and proved to be the game winner. Corey Crawford didn’t look great during the Wild’s comeback but he held down the fort in the third to preserve the win. Crawford was solid in Game Two turning back 30 Wild shots in route to a 4-1 win. Crawford appears to have wrested the starting job back from Scott Darling–at least for the time being.

Devan Dubnyk got the Wild to this point so the team is going to stick with them despite his erratic play in this series. 8 goals against in two games isn’t what you expect from a Vezina Trophy candidate. The big problem that Minnesota has in this series is that they can’t match Chicago’s deep roster of offensive talent, nor have they been able to stop Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, et al. The Wild are favorites here given the importance of the situation and the perception of them being a nasty home ice team. They are strong on home ice, but the Blackhawks have been good on the road this season. True, they did drop two big losses at Nashville in the first round but the Predators *are* a team that can play ‘video game’ hockey with the Hawks. The Wild aren’t.