Wild vs. Blackhawks Playoff Pick
For the third straight year the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks will meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs – Chicago beat Minnesota in five games in the first round of the 2013 playoffs before a six-game series victory in the second round last year.
NHL Playoffs Betting
Friday, May 1 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Chicago NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3 8:30 p.m. Minnesota at Chicago NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 5 8 p.m. Chicago at Minnesota NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Minnesota NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9 TBD Minnesota at Chicago TVA Sports
*Monday, May 11 TBD Chicago at Minnesota TVA Sports
*Wednesday, May 13 TBD Minnesota at Chicago TVA Sports
Wild vs. Blackhawks Odds To Win 7 Game Series:
Wild Series Prices +130
Blackhawks Series Prices -150
The Blackhawks beat the Predators in six games while Minnesota upset second-seeded St. Louis in six games. The Hawks won the season series 3-2 but the Wild enter Round 2 looking like the better all-around team thanks to Devan Dubnyk.
Both teams are predicated on strong defense and solid forward lines – this series is as close on paper as it will likely be on the ice.
So who advances to the Western Conference Final? Let’s take a look.
Offensively the Blackhawks have the pedigree, the experience and the depth to make life miserable on the Wild while Minnesota, although respectable up front have a few holes.
Patrick Kane is healthy and fresh – he had seven points in Round 1, center Jonathan Toews leads all players with eight postseason points, Brad Richards had five points against Nashville and Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, explosive Brandon Saad, Brian Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Antoine Vermette—and late season pickup Andrew Desjardins proved superior depth for arguably the most dangerous offensive team left in the playoffs.
The Wild on the other hand have Zach Parise who had seven points in Round 1 including 2 goals in the clinching game, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Chris Stewart, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund- a nice forward group for sure. The top line of Parise, Granlund, and Pominville combined for 17 points against St. Louis – no other forward had more than three points in the six games.
The Wild don’t quite measure up to the firepower and experience that the Hawks will trot out there in this series.
Defense is Minnesota’s game – thanks in large part to Devan Dubnyk but Minnesota may possess the best D-Man in the series in Ryan Suter. Minnesota’s defensive depth, although not flashy is solid. Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, and budding star Matt Dumba are names that won’t jump off the page but they are capable of providing more-than-adequate defending in front of their Vezina caliber keeper.
Chicago has Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Michal Rozsival, Kimmo Timonen, Nik Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. Together this unit was the second best defensive club in the game.
Call it a draw on defense – neither team has the decided edge here.
The Wild have the edge between the pipes – period. Devan Dubnyk has proven to be the difference maker for the Wild since he joined the team mid-season – there is no reason to think differently about Round 2 of the playoffs. He was 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .936 save percentage for the Wild in the regular season after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in January. Dubnyk finished Round 1 with a 2.32 GAA and a .913 save percentage – he flat out stole a few games for the Wild against St. Louis.
The Blackhawks goaltending tandem of Corey Crawford and Scott Darling were up and down in Round 2 – neither keeper gave us any sense that the goaltending edge would belong to the Hawks in Round 2. Head Coach Joel Quenville has already named Crawford as his Game 1 starter – he had a 4.19 GAA and .850 save percentage in the first round while Darling posted a 2.28 GAA and .934 save percentage against Nashville. However Crawford’s save percentage versus Minnesota was .948 this season. Crawford has to hope to get back to the form that saw him backstop the Hawks to the 2013 Cup and the form that saw him post a 2.27 GAA and a .924 save percentage this past season.
If goaltending alone wins playoff series the favored Hawks may be in a bit of trouble here.
It is a good thing for strong Chicago defense and an offense that seems to be peeking at the right time.
The Minnesota Wild have been the best team in the NHL the last 10 or so weeks – no doubt. But in a seven game series, the depth and experience of the Chicago forwards will prove to be too much. Add in the offensive prowess of the Hawks defense and you be assured that Minnesota will be under siege for the better part of the series. Devan Dubnyk will steal a game or two but Chicago looks too strong in this one.
Expect Brian Bickell’s size and the creativity and skill of every Hawks forward to get the better of Dubnyk and the Wild here. Simply put Chicago is the better team in this series.
4* NHL Free Play: Take Chicago -150 to win in seven games!