The first goal in game 1 of the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues series didn’t come until overtime. The Blues were fortunate enough to catch a break out in front of the net, as a cross-ice pass was deflected by a Blackhawk defender, went between the legs of Corey Crawford, and into the back of the net. And just like that, the Blues found themselves up by a game on the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Blackhawks know best – one game does not define a team in the playoffs. They’ve been behind before and only have Stanley Cups to show for it. I said that Brian Elliot was going to steal game 1 and sure enough he saved the day for the Blues.
Elliot was dazzling, sending back all 35 shots thrown his way. Not only can Elliott steal a game, but he is good enough to steal a series, or a few. Corey Crawford did all he could on his end, but it was a funny bounce which determined the outcome of game, as is the case in a lot of games like that. It isn’t some pretty play that decides the game, it’s a bounce, a difficult pill to swallow for the team on the losing end. The Blackhawks will look to knot the series up before heading home to Chicago. Stealing home ice advantage is all the Blackhawks could ask for, and they have that opportunity tonight.
They hope to be on the receiving end of some fluky bounces. Considering how well Elliott was playing, it may take a bounce like that to get a puck behind him. The Blues’ skaters have to be thanking Elliott after that outing from him. They caught a mulligan behind Elliott, a game they would have lose if it weren’t for his play in the crease. A hot goaltender is a nice formula to win the Stanley Cup. We’ll see if he can turn the Blackhawks back again Friday night.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues NHL Playoffs Pick
I was planning on taking game 1 one of two ways, a play on the UNDER or the Blues. I ended up going with the Blues. I took the long road to the cashier window, as the UNDER would have been a stress free victory. The mantra going into tonight for many sports bettors is the thinking that the Blackhawks aren’t going to go down by two games. They saw how the Blues needed Elliott to bail them out, yet the Blackhawks recorded more shots on net. One thing I believe is going to come to fruition is another close game. I see a 1 goal game being the decider Friday night.
The performance by Brian Elliott was not uncanny. This is a goaltender who finished the regular season with a 2.07 GAA. Good for 3rd in the NHL. Likewise, he posted a strong save percentage of 0.93, which was tops in the league. So, don’t think Elliott isn’t capable of pulling something similar out of his hat tonight. I liked the UNDER in game 1 and don’t see how this series doesn’t play out in a similar fashion throughout. Crawford and Elliott are going to be the focal points. One slip up in net is going to cost a team a game. We probably aren’t going to see 0-0 at the end of regulation, but it should be another low scoring meeting in St. Louis for game 2.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-105)