An exciting series awaits in Anaheim, as two of the best and hottest teams in the NHL at the moment take the ice for game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Like the Lightning and Rangers, this should be another that proves to be played close throughout, with the winner not being that much of a surprise. I can make a serious argument for the Blackhawks to win this series and I have a serious argument for the Ducks. The Hawks are no strangers to making it this deep in the playoffs, the Ducks have faltered in previous playoffs, but the way they have been playing is out of this world. If we are looking at the playoffs as a whole from start to now, I give the best team award to the Ducks.
People were preparing for them to collapse and choke again last round, but they made quick work of the Calgary Flames, just like they did against the Winnipeg Jets. Those were two teams that fit the profile of teams that could spring an upset, but the Ducks were playing at way too high of a level to garner any success. The Blackhawks too are on a serious run, defeating the Minnesota Wild in four straight games. Memo to the Wild, if you have to face the Blackhawks in the playoffs in the future again, just forfeit and get the offseason started early next time. After three attempts the Wild still can’t solve the Blackhawks. The Hawks have a stringier test in front of them this series, which is impeding their view of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers were able to get out to a 1-0 series lead yesterday thanks to a late 3rd period goal. It appears that the series is going to have plenty of games like that come down to 1 goal games. Generally this time of year that is what you will come to find anyway, but this final 4 does feature some teams of equal skill. I feel that the Blackhawks/Ducks series will see plenty of close games, too. Lots of good play makers to watch for, including Pat Kane, Jonathan Toewes, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and many more. Lots of members of the Olympics here to mention. We’ll see who captures game 1 this afternoon in Anaheim.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks have always been a force at home the past few seasons. Like I said for the Rangers and Lightning series, having home ice advantage should pay diffidence at the end of these series. The Bolts are number 1 in the league at home, but not having the luxury of playing in Tampa from the start could have impacted them. The team with the 2nd best home record in the NHL is the Anaheim Ducks, who had an impressive 31-12-1-2 record playing at home in the regular season. In the playoffs it has carried over. We have to go all the way back to April 8th of the regular season to find the last time the Ducks lost a game at home. A pretty much pointless game against the Dallas Stars. The Ducks are a perfect 5-0 at home and are 8-1 in the playoffs overall. Their only loss came in overtime against the Flames. In other words, they were a bounce away from sweeping the competition away in the playoffs.
The Blackhawks are hot in their own right, winning 5 straight games to bring them today in Anaheim. For today’s pick though, I am going to go with the team that has looked on a different level this playoffs. The Hawks have had their ups and downs but the Ducks have flat out looked dominant. We are also getting a team that really doesn’t understand how to lose at home. The Blackhawks are a good team, and this will be a competitive series, but I think game 1 is there for the taking for the Ducks who look to be playing on a mission and proving doubters wrong.
PICK: DUCKS TO WIN -130 5DIMES – BEST ODDS