The NHL's Stanley Cup Finals shift to the United Center for Monday night's Game 3 with the best-of-seven series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks tied at one game apiece.
Chicago has been listed as a -149 home favorite on BetOnline's betting odds for Monday night, and the total has been set at five. Sportsbook.ag has added even more betting action to this crucial matchup with a number of NHL team prop bet odds in conjunction with the game. The following are my top three picks for these team props.
Score in the First 10 Minutes
The betting odds that either team lights the lamp before the 10 minute mark of the first period are set at -110 for "yes" and -120 for "no".
Going back over the first two games in this series, Tampa Bay has drawn first blood in each contest with a first-period goal that also happened to be the only score of that period. In Game 1, Alex Killorn put the Lightning on the board with less than five minutes to play, and Cedric Paquette gave his team another early 1-0 lead with a goal at the 12:56-minute mark of the first period in Game 2.
The series now shifts venues to the United Center with a huge shroud of mystery surrounding which Tampa Bay goaltender will be between the pipes when the puck drops a bit past 8 p.m. (ET). The Lightnings' regular starter Ben Bishop had to leave the ice two separate times in the third period of Saturday night's Game 2, and he was replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was actually credited with his first postseason win after stopping all five shots he faced.
Bishop is currently listed as "questionable" on the latest injury report with an apparent knee injury. This may be a wait-and-see prop bet pick, but I am jumping on the "yes" if Vasilevskiy gets the start. These Chicago sharpshooters will smell the blood in the water against a goalie that posted just 13 starts on the year.
First Team to Score
The odds that Tampa Bay gets on the board first for the third straight game in this series have been set at +105, while the betting odds that the Blackhawks get the early lead with the first goal have been set at -125.
Using much of the same rational as I did in the first prop bet pick given the Lightnings' situation at goalie, I would have to go with Chicago in this prop pick. Not only will the Blackhawks have a golden opportunity to jump all over an inexperienced goalie at home on the league's biggest stage in the NHL Finals, they also have a trio of players that have been scoring at a high level throughout these playoffs.
Even if Bishop is ready to go, the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith are not going to be held in check this entire series. Kane has led the way with 10 goals and 10 assists through his first 19 postseason games, and Toews is a close second with nine goals and 10 assists. Keith has just two goals in the postseason, but he was credited with his 17th assist in Saturday night's 4-3 loss in Game 2.
Total Shots on Goal- Chicago
The "over/under" odds for Chicago's total shots on goal in Monday's contest have been set at -115 either way for a total of 32.5 shots on goal. Chicago registered just 21 shots on goal in its 2-1 victory in Game 1, and this total rose to 29 shots in Game 2.
Looking back at the Blackhawks' regular-season stats, Kane averaged 3.1 shots a game and Toews averaged 2.4. Marian Hossa also averaged over three shots on goal per game, and the team as a whole averaged 33.9 shots on goal in a total of 82 games. Though 19 playoff games, Chicago has peppered the opposing team's goalie an average of 31.8 times a game. It has nine different players that have registered at least 35 shots on goal this postseason.
The Blackhawks are 7-1 at home in eight previous playoffs games, and while they are averaging a healthy 3.2 goals a game overall, this average jumps to an impressive 3.75 goals in those eight games on their home ice. Regardless of who is in goal for Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, they are going to be tested with "over" 32.5 shots.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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