Red Wings at Blackhawks Picks and Game 1 NHL Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/15/2013
In this writer's humble opinion, the Western Conference semifinal series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings that begins Wednesday night at the United Center is the best possible matchup the NHL could ask for this postseason outside of the Hawks and Pittsburgh Penguins meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals. Perhaps I am biased being from the north, but it's two old Original Six rivals who despise -- but also respect -- one another. And this will be the last time they ever meet in the playoffs unless it's in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Wings (and Blue Jackets) will be moving to the Eastern Conference next season, meaning Detroit and Chicago will only have a regular-season two-game home-and-home series.
This will be the 16th time the two have met in the postseason and first since the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Detroit won that one in five, but the Hawks lead all-time, 8-7. According to ESPN Chicago, the sides have been playing one other since the first meeting Nov. 24, 1926. The Red Wings own a 389-313-84 record against the Blackhawks overall (including playoffs).
Red Wings at Blackhawks Betting Story Lines
Detroit surged at the end of the season simply to make the playoffs and was fortunate enough to jump into the No. 7 spot, as it turned out, and avoid the Hawks in the first round. I thought Detroit was toast against the No. 2 Ducks when Anaheim won Game 5 at home in overtime, but Detroit won Game 6 at home, also in OT, and then stole Game 7, 3-2, back in California on Sunday. That was Detroit's lone regulation win of the series and only its third-ever Game 7 road victory. The Wings' two best players stepped up against the Ducks, with Henrik Zetterberg leading the team with eight points (three goals) and Pavel Datsyuk with seven (two goals). Wings head coach Mike Babcock had those two on the same line for the first six games of the Anaheim series but split them up for Game 7. So it will be interesting to see how Babcock uses them here.
Chicago had very little trouble with No. 8 Minnesota, which was clearly the worst team in these playoffs as the Hawks took out the overmatched Wild in five games for Chicago's first series win since hoisting the Cup in Philadelphia in 2010. The Blackhawks used a two-goalie system all season, but Ray Emery (17-1-0 this year) was out injured in Round 1, so Corey Crawford saw all the action. He had a tremendous 1.32 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. Patrick Sharp (five goals) and Marian Hossa (three goals) each led the team with six points.
Both Emery and top-six forward Dave Bolland will be available in the Detroit series, with Bolland also sitting out against the Wild. Bolland had seven goals and seven assists during the regular season and had two combined goals in two games against Detroit. The Hawks swept the season series from the Wings for the first time in 36 years. But that's a tad misleading. One game was a 7-1 blowout, but the other three all at least went to OT, and the Wings had late regulation leads in two of them. Crawford was brilliant, starting all four. He allowed only five total goals. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard was pulled in that 7-1 game but otherwise also was very good. Captain Jonathan Toews led Chicago with five points against Detroit (two goals). Johan Franzen had two goals for Detroit.
Red Wings at Blackhawks NHL Game 1 Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BookMaker, the Hawks are -200 and the Wings +170 with the total at 5. Detroit was 17-25-6 “over/under” this season (9-11-4 on road). It was 2-2-3 O/U in first round against Anaheim. Chicago was 18-26-4 O/U this season (9-11-4 at home) and 2-2-1 O/U in first round against Minnesota.
The Wings are 5-0 in their past five games when their opponent allows two goals or fewer in its previous game. The Wings are 1-6 in their past seven when their opponent scores five goals or more in its previous game. Detroit is 0-11 in its past 11 when playing on two days of rest. The under is 7-1-3 in Detroit's past 11 after allowing two goals or fewer in their previous game. The under is 4-1 in Chicago's past five Wednesday games. The under is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings in Chicago. Detroit is 1-4 in the past five in Chicago.
Red Wings at Blackhawks Picks and Game 1 Betting Predictions
The Blackhawks will be plenty well-rested, having not played since last Thursday, while the Red Wings have been traveling back and forth across the country and had just the two days off. Still, sometimes a tired team on an emotional high can steal Game 1 against a rusty team -- remember what the Chicago Bulls did to the Miami Heat in that series opener? If Detroit is going to steal one in Chicago, Game 1 would seem the most likely candidate.
The Wings were terrific on the power play against the Ducks, with six man-advantage goals. The Hawks killed off every Wild penalty. As much as I'd like to roll the dice at that fat +170 price on the Wings, I can't do it. Take the Hawks -- although they will have to work for it and I'm sure it's another one-goal game -- and the under. I also believe Chicago will win the series in six. The Hawks are -290 on that line with the Wings at +240.
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