A 2-0 series lead for the Vegas Golden Knights certainly isn’t ruining the spirits of a Blackhawks’ group that has had their fair share of success. Their core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith have won some Stanley Cups in their day, and know they’re certainly still in this series against the favoured Knights.
Game 2 saw Jeremy Colliton’s Chicago side turn in a much better effort as the group played to their strengths, and made Vegas defend. We wrote in that preview that Chicago showed far too much respect to Vegas back in Game 1, and Game 2 the Hawks seemed to flip that script. They took chances, and as a result pushed the pace offensively – forcing the Knights out of their comfort zone and into a lot of defensive sequences.
Still, Vegas squeaked out a gruelling victory in overtime in Game 2, and did so without one of their top scorers in winger Max Pacioretty. All accounts have the talented shooter back in for Game 3, and Chicago will need to be even better to make this a series.
With desperation apparent from a Blackhawks side clinging to their playoff lives, it should make for an exciting matchup with all the skill on display. Can Vegas continue their impressive post-season run and secure a bit of a break with an early finish? Or will the veteran leadership and experience of Chicago turn the clock back for one more run? Those answers, along with our match preview and betting analysis will be provided beneath the odds below. Enjoy a full Saturday slate of playoff hockey action!
Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights Betting Odds:
Chicago Blackhawks (+167)
Vegas Golden Knights (-191)
Over 5.5 (-141)
Under 5.5 (+120)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights Pick:
Despite all of the successes Chicago had in Game 2, they still ended up losing. Whether or not they deserved a better fate isn’t important really, as there are no moral victories come playoff season.
Looking forward though to a crucial Game 3, some things do tilt in favour of Chicago. For starters, the Hawks will now be designated as the home team in the Edmonton bubble, giving coach Colliton the added benefit of last change.
The ability to put out players last varies in importance to different teams, but for a group like Chicago which lacks depth on their bottom lines – it’s crucial. Expect Colliton to take full advantage and use his captain Jonathan Toews to hard-match against Vegas’ top-line. Toews is still a driving force and can be an absolute pest to play against. If Toews can stifle the scorers of the Knights, it could free up Dylan Strome and Patrick Kane to create some magic against weaker opposition.
While the Blackhawks did fall short in Game 2, they did many good things that troubled the Knights. They pushed the pace, controlled offensive zone time, equalled them in terms of chances and shots, and took more chances going forward. All of those things made it a tougher game for Vegas, and by forcing a team like that to defend – it obviously keeps them away from their heralded cycle and forecheck games.
Expect Chicago to give Vegas an even heavier dose of that in Game 3, only this time with full control over the personnel mismatches. Colliton hasn’t been an NHL coach for all that long, but he is sharp enough to realize how the Hawks can trouble this Knights side. More of what we saw in Game 2 in terms of allowing Chicago’s offense to shine through, will be a necessity.
And while I do think Chicago will end up stealing one of the games in this series, it’s tough to commit to picking one given their moneyline prices. There is a huge disparity between these groups in terms of their depth. Chicago’s bottom two-lines just cannot play with Vegas. That said, the Hawks enter Game 3 a desperate team, and that desperation should breed aggressiveness. Chicago needs a win, so expect even more offense. If you can find an over 5.5 betting line, that’s a definite edge in tonight’s Game 3 between Chicago and Vegas. Enjoy!
Pick: Vegas 4-3