2013 Stanley Cup Picks: Bruins vs. Blackhawks Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/11/2013
If you would have told the NHL and NBC TV officials that they would be given a Boston Bruins-Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals back in the winter, they would have taken it in a second. Would the NHL maybe preferred to have had Pittsburgh advance over Boston from the East Finals? Probably, just because of Sidney Crosby. But you can't beat the first Original Six matchup for the Stanley Cup since 1979 and the first playoff matchup between Boston and Chicago since the year before that. It's the first all-American Original Six Finals since 1972 (won by Boston).
I do think these are the two deepest clubs in hockey this season; the Pens had more firepower than either, but the Bruins proved last round that hot goaltending can slow any top offense. Boston really had no right even advancing past the first round. It staged the greatest single-game playoff comeback in history in Game 7 against Toronto, down 4-1 about halfway through the third only to win 5-4 in overtime and devastate an entire country in Canada. The Hawks probably shouldn't be here, either. Yes, they were clear Western Conference favorites after a record-setting regular season, but Chicago was down 3-1 to seventh-seeded Detroit in the West semifinals before winning the final three games in the best playoff series comeback in franchise history.
It should be a terrific Finals -- I fully expect record ratings -- and if it goes less than six games I would be stunned. The Hawks are -145 series favorites on Bovada with Boston at +125.
Bruins vs. Blackhawks Betting Story Lines
It will never happen, but I almost wish that the NHL would go to the old American League/National League model and not have the teams from the respective conferences play during the regular season. Because we truly have no idea how these teams match up considering they haven't played since early in the 2011-12 season. For what it's worth, Boston won that one 3-2 in Chicago in a shootout. Most of the teams' current key players were in that one outside of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. Tim Thomas, now out of the NHL, started for the Bruins.
The two goalies, Chicago's Corey Crawford and Rask, are the Conn Smythe Trophy favorites at Bovada at 19/10 and 21/10, respectively. I expected big things out of Rask this season, and he was totally dominant against the Penguins in allowing just two goals. He leads the postseason with a .943 save percentage and has a 1.75 GAA. Crawford is right there with him, with a 1.74 GAA and .935 save percentage. That a goalie wins the Conn Smythe is a separate prop with “yes” at -225 and “no” at +185.
Realistically, I only see four other players that could win playoff MVP honors -- remember, it's not Finals MVP but overall postseason. That would be Boston's David Krejci (5/1) and Nathan Horton (20/1) or Chicago's Marian Hossa (7/1) or Bryan Bickell (19/2). Krejci leads all players with 21 points and nine goals. Horton is right behind with 17 points (seven goals). Bickell has eight goals and is making millions as an upcoming unrestricted free agent. He had at least a point in all five Kings games; not bad for a guy with just nine goals and 14 assists during the season. I think it will be one of the goalies. You can also bet on a yes-only prop that a player from the losing side in the Finals will win the trophy at +1500, but don't waste your money there. No one has been that dominant. I do like Krejci at +105 to have more points in the series than Patrick Kane (-135).
Chicago is healthy for the Finals, while Boston lost fourth-line center Gregory Campbell to a broken leg in the Penguins series. Yeah, a fourth-line center doesn't seem like much, but Campbell was one of those glue guys who always sacrificed his body to block a shot. In fact, that's how the injury happened. He had three goals and four assists in these playoffs.
Bruins vs. Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals Series Betting Odds and Key Trends
Chicago is -150 and Boston +130 with the total at 5 on Bovada for Game 1. The Hawks were 9-11-4 “over/under” at home during regular season and are 4-3-3 in the playoffs. The Bruins were 8-14-2 O/U on the road during regular season and 4-3 in postseason.
The Bruins are 4-0 in their past four after allowing two goals or fewer in their previous game. Boston is 22-7 in its past 29 playing on at least three days of rest. The Blackhawks are 4-1 in their past five playing on at least three days of rest. The under is 5-1-1 in Boston's past seven on at least three days of rest. The under is 5-1-1 in Chicago's past seven Wednesday games. The over is 5-2-3 in Chicago's past 10 when their opponent scores two goals or fewer in its previous game. Boston has won six of the past eight meetings.
2013 Stanley Cup Picks: Bruins vs. Blackhawks Betting Predictions
I could almost flip a coin here. In such a close matchup, I'm sure special teams will be the difference. Neither team's power play has been great. Chicago's penalty kill has been spectacular, allowing just three man-advantage goals in 57 playoff tries. Boston has allowed seven in 52 tries but totally blanked the Penguins.
Detroit was able to frustrate Hawks captain Jonathan Toews much of that series, and Kane only found his scoring touch in Games 4 and 5 against Los Angeles. Gigantic Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will be a matchup problem for those two guys. I think the Hawks win Game 1, taking the under, but I do like Boston in seven games for the series because I have to give Rask the edge in net. He's the Conn Smythe winner.
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