The NHL playoffs kicked off last night with a pair of games. The Capitals took on the Rangers, and the Flames and Ducks went at it in Anaheim. One was a nail-biter and came down to literally the last second. The later game was never in doubt, as the Ducks blew the doors off the Flames for a 6-1 win. It was a rude awakening for the Flames who haven’t been in this spot in plenty of years. For the Ducks, they proved that they aren’t fooling around and are getting a little sick and tired of collapsing come playoff time. They’ve heard the chatter from fans and pundits that they are nothing but chokers in the playoffs. Nobody has heard that more than Corey Perry. Perry responded last night with a monster effort, netting 2 goals and 2 assists in the 6-1 win for the Ducks. Anaheim needs more of that out of Perry, who has been counted on to produce in the playoffs for the Ducks. The Flames need to do put it in the past and regroup for game 2. In the other game Thursday night, the Capitals controlled the majority of the game with a 1-0 lead but looked to cough it away after the Rangers knotted it up at 1-1. However, the Capitals got a goal with 1.4 seconds left in regulation to avoid overtime and take the unlikely 1-0 series lead.
Friday night we have two more matchups to feed our appetite with. In Montreal the Habs welcome the Lightning, and meanwhile the Blackhawks host a familiar opponent, the Wild, to Chicago. For tonights pick we head off to the Windy City for the battle between a pesky Wild team, and the Blackhawks who just expect to be competing for Stanley Cups and winning them. The Hawks have a good of shot at winning it all as the other competitors left in the playoffs. Conversely, the Wild are expecting to take an additional jump this year. They have gotten to second rounds, but have never been able to take it to the next level. Minnesota has their opportunity here against the Blackhawks. It’s going to take a complete team effort from the Wild, but I think they can make it a coming out party this series. Does that mean they are going to win tonight? Read below as I provide my thoughts of game 1.
Minnesota Wild @ Chicago Blackhawks
Do you recall when Devan Dubnyk was in Edmonton and he was playing like one of those plastic goalies you would attach to your net in your backyard? Yeah that was exactly how he was playing. Goal after goal and finger pointing was directed his way. Dubnyk finished with a GAA of 3.36 in his last year with the Oilers. Was it really all his fault, though? Playing on the Oilers does have its disadvantages as a goalie, but in any case, Dubnyk improved his GAA to finish with a 2.07 this season for the Wild. He is an integral part of the Wild’s success, and they’ll need him to come up big again in this series against the Hawks. If prior success is indicative of future success then the prospects do not look good for him. Note in 12 games against the Blackhawks he has a 3.54 GAA. Playing in Chicago should prove to be a lot for him to handle, at least for game 1, where nerves should be rattling just a little bit playing in Chicago.
Considering the Blues’ history in the playoffs of always failing I don’t know if we can count that as a major surprise that the Wild dumped them last round. They face a stiffer test against a Blackhawk team that is more than battle tested. I think the Blackhawks will be able to win game 1 in a tough, close matchup. I don’t foresee a blowout, but the Hawks should get the job done. A reasonable prediction in this series is that both teams will hold serve at home the first four games. We’ll go with that assumption here and take the Blackhawks.
PICK: BLACKHAWKS TO WIN -131 5DIMES – BEST ODDS