We are off the mini losing streak and back on track with our NHL picks as the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild once again engaged in a low-scoring tilt that saw Minnesota even the series. There was an early scare as the Wild opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game, however both teams would not tally another goal in the period and a scoreless third ensured that we would come out on top with our UNDER 5 selection. These playoffs keep getting better as we are looking at a lot of series’ that are now two out of three’s with thrilling game fives on the horizon. We will be focussing our attention on one of those game fives from perhaps the best series going in these very entertaining Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Chicago Blackhawks @ St. Louis Blues
My Pick – BLACKHAWKS (+100) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
In terms of classic, fierce playoff hockey this series is the best one going right now as the battle between these two clubs takes us back to the good ol’ days where just about anything goes. After four entertaining games to start the series, Chicago and St. Louis are facing a game five with the series knotted at two’s. The home team has yet to lose a game in the series as Chicago was able to rally from a 2-0 deficit on home ice to win back-to-back games and turn this thriller into a best two out of three series. However, I am looking for the road team to finally break through and steal a game from the Blues on their home turf. The Blackhawks were the third best scoring team away from home this season as they scored 3 goals on average on the road and scored 3.3 goals per game, the best in the entire NHL. Although looked upon as one of, if not the best defensive team in the league (2.3 goals against per game overall), the Blues actually are worse on the back end on home ice than they are on the road as they surrender 2.4 goals per game at the Scottrade Center this season, good for 10th in the league. Although he has been fairly solid for the Blues in net this postseason, Ryan Miller let in a very soft goal in game four of the series that eventually stood as the game winner, and in my mind a turning point in the series. The Blues seem to be reeling a bit at this point, and Chicago’s top duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane seem to be in fine form after getting plenty of rest with injuries near the end of the season. Don’t forget St. Louis is without their Captain and leader in David Backes, likely for tonight’s game as well, and that fact seems to have taken the wind out of the sails of the team that had a 2-0 lead heading to Chicago. The Blues are just 2 for 21 with the man advantage in this series so far, which translates into a 9.5% success rate. The Blackhawks have actually killed off an impressive 84.2% of their penalties against the Blues over their last ten meetings and have seen their powerplay click at a 21.9% clip in the same span. Truthfully there are not a whole lot of numbers that can back up this pick as Chicago hasn’t had the best luck in St. Louis in recent history (they are, however, 4-2 in their last six games against the Blues), but this is more of a feel pick as I can see that the momentum has clearly shifted to the Blackhawks heading into a pivotal game five from St. Louis.