Wild at Blackhawks Picks and NHL Game 5 Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 5/9/2013
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Blackhawks have failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs. With a 3-1 lead here in this series, they are on the verge of breaking that slump, and they are very hungry to do so. They are clearly the most talented team in the West this year, and the first round is just the beginning of what they are looking to accomplish. So, can they get it done here? That’s the big question for bettors. I have a pretty strong opinion of the correct answer, but we’ll get to that.
Wild at Blackhawks Betting storylines
The Wild have allowed three goals per game — more than they can likely afford to get away with against a team like the Blackhawks. They have a very good excuse for those issues, though — they are running out of goalies. No. 1 man Niklas Backstrom never even got to start the series. In a fluke incident, he was hurt in warmups before the first game. That left Josh Harding to shoulder the load. In Game 4 he got tied up with Jonathan Toews around the goal post. He finished the rest of the first period but clearly wasn’t right. He missed the rest of the game, and third-stringer Darcy Kuemper was called into action. As I write this the team is being very tight lipped about what is likely to happen in Game 5. No matter what, though, it won’t be ideal.
Special teams aren’t typically as much of a factor in the playoffs as they are in the regular season because there are fewer penalties called. In this series, though, both teams should be downright embarrassed by their play when one team is shorthanded. Chicago has the only power play goal in the series and the only shorthanded goal as well. Minnesota’s failure to produce on special teams is a big reason why they aren’t more competitive in this series. For Chicago their struggles — they have converted on just 9.1 percent of opportunities — further reinforces one concern about the otherwise well-balanced team. During the regular season their 16.6 percent power play rate was just 19th in the league. Only Vancouver was worse among Western Conference playoff teams, and we already saw how ready they were for the playoffs. Power play production isn’t likely to be the difference in this series, but significant improvement would make things easier for the Blackhawks as they carry forward. Minnesota was just 18th in the league in penalty kill percentage in the regular season, so the Hawks can’t even blame Minnesota struggles for their issues.
Injuries are a factor for both teams — as is the case with most teams at this point in the NHL Playoffs. Harding is uncertain for Minnesota, though he will be making the trip for the Wild. Defenseman Clayton Stoner and forward Zenon Konopka are more seriously injured and will not be making the trip. Konopka is a player the Wild will miss, though his impact certainly isn’t statistical — he had no points in 37 games this year. He’s a real physical presence, and he’s willing to do whatever needs to be done to help his team win. His grittiness and selflessness could help keep this team focused in these dire times. The Blackhawks are likely to be without goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland — both are questionable with lower-body injuries. The Blackhawks have ridden exceptional goaltending all year and have allowed just 1.5 goals per game this series. They are just one unlucky break away from the same fate as the Wild right now, though, so the Emery injury is particularly concerning over the longer term.
Wild at Blackhawks NHL Game 5 Odds and Betting Trends
The Wild are not built for the playoffs — they have won just one of their last seven playoff games. The under is 7-1-1 in their last nine games against the Northwest Division. Minnesota has won just one of their last six against Chicago.
Wild at Blackhawks Picks and Game 5 Betting Predictions
I believe that Minnesota’s will has been broken in this one. They had earned an impressive overtime win at home in Game 3 of the series and could gain momentum with another strong effort. Instead, they came out completely flat and were shutout 3-0 in a listless effort. Watching the game I got the distinct impression that two things had happened — the Blackhawks had gotten serious about reaching their potential, and the Wild had accepted that their fate is all but sealed in this one. Now Chicago goes home, and they have the win in their sights. They smell blood, and they will be at full force here. The price is lousy, but I expect Chicago to not just win this game but to dominate it. The puckline sits at -1.5 (even), and that’s an attractive play here.
$60 worth of member’s NHL picks absolutely free – no obligation, no sales people – you don’t even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top hockey handicappers. Get your free picks by clicking here!
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Get all of Tonight's NHL Picks.
Get all of Tonight's guaranteed Expert NHL Picks.