For the first time since 1998, the first three games of the Stanley Cup Finals have been decided by just a goal.
Blackhawks at Flyers, 8 p.m. (Versus)
The line: Flyers -115/Blackhawks –105
Props: Will game go into overtime – yes +300; no -400; Jonathan Toews points + shots (3.5); will Marian Hossa score a goal – yes +190; no -250; Danny Briere points + shots (4.5); Claude Giroux will he record a point – yes +130; no -160.
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How they enter: Only two teams have overcome losing the first two games on the road to win the Stanley Cup, but the Flyers have looked like the superior team for most of the past two games. They are down 2-1 after Claude Giroux's deflection goal 5:59 into overtime of Game 3 before the largest hockey crowd ever in the state of Pennsylvania. Here’s an odd stat: Philly’s victory broke a four-game win streak for road teams in Stanley Cup Finals overtime games. That win also ended Chicago’s record-tying seven-game road winning streak in the playoffs. The Flyers are now 8-1 at home in the playoffs.
Scouting report: The Blackhawks seem to be having trouble dealing with Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger’s shenanigans as he is clearly getting under their skin and not getting whistled for it. And, again, Chicago’s top line, which Pronger is pretty much always matched against, isn’t performing up to par. Although there were signs of life in Game 3 as Patrick Kane had his first goal since May 11, and added an assist as well. Toews went without a goal for the fifth game in a row but did have an assist. Dustin Byfuglien has just an assist in the series. Pronger, who played more than 32 minutes in Game 3, prodded Byfuglien into a slashing penalty and the Flyers scored twice on the power play in Game 3. The Hawks still haven’t scored a PP goal. Toews has 13 points in power-play situations this postseason, but the Hawks are 0-for-6 in the series, while the Flyers are 4-for-10. The Hawks are hoping to get a boost from Andrew Ladd if he can play tonight. The winger hasn’t played since the series clincher against the Sharks after suffering a shoulder injury, but has been practicing of late. He had 38 points during the regular season. Philly’s line of Danny Briere-Ville Leino-Scott Hartnell combined for one point. In the first three games of the Cup finals, they have produced 14 points.
The picks: The Blackhawks have yet to lose back-to-back games in this postseason, so this will be their biggest test to date. I think the Hawks do win this game. I also think it’s silly not to take the overtime prop at +300 because that’s just tremendous value and these teams seem pretty darn even so far. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says the team’s top line has been getting better, and it’s time for Toews to step up like the captain he is. He has just five shots in the series, but both he and Kane vow to shoot more and be aggressive. Take the ‘over’ 3.5 combo on Toews. Hossa continues to be the team’s best player and has at least a point in each game. However, he has only three goals in the playoffs so I wouldn’t take ‘yes’ on that one. Briere has been a monster in this series with a two-point and four-point game. He also has at least four shots in two games. With the Flyers having the final line change, the Breire line should continue to get the matchup it wants. Take the ‘over’ on Briere. Giroux was pointless and shotless in the first two games. But he has been a monster in home games all playoffs. Take him to notch a point.