The Chicago Blackhawks were utterly dominated in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals in Boston but they responded very well in an overtime victory in Game 4. they need to shore up defensively. The Blackhawks return home to the United Center for Game 5 on Saturday night against the Bruins in what is now a best-of-three series to crown the Cup champs.
Boston Bruins @ Chicago Blackhawks
Odds: Blackhawks -150
Brent Seabrook scored the winner 9:51 of the extra frame to give Chicago a 6-5 win on Wednesday, the third overtime game in this Stanley Cup finals so far, and he spared the Blackhawks’ blushes as they lost the lead three times in Game 4. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Michal Handzus, Marcus Kruger and Patrick Sharp all found the back of the net for the ‘Hawks, who did much better in the faceoff circle, almost equaling the Bruins 39-38 after getting blasted 40-16 in the previous game. The odds are tipped in Chicago’s favor when they can open it up a little bit, but they’ll need a better performance from Corey Crawford, who let in five goals on 28 shots and the Bruins were obviously targeting his glove side.
Patrice Bergeron netted twice to lead the Bruins while Johnny Boychuk, Rich Peverly and Milan Lucic added singles for Boston, who were outshot 47-33. Tuukka Rask made 41 shots as the Boston defense was uncharacteristically loose, although Chicago were taking more chances and shooting whenever they got a quasi-open look. Boston has the horses to attack Chicago and play into their open style, but they’re better-suited for close 2-1 games, not a 6-5 scoreline. However, they showed a lot of heart to fight back from three different deficits and they’ll need it especially on the road on Saturday in Chicago.
The Blackhawks are -150 favorites on the NHL betting lines heading into Saturday’s huge game at home, where they have lost just twice in the postseason (although one was to Boston in Game 2 of this series). It was a big game for Toews and Kane, who were reunited on a line together and responded after struggling for most of the series. Toews scored just his second goal of the playoffs and even though he has been adding grit and defensive work (he recently won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward, following Bergeron), Chicago needs him to score goals.
Hockey betting fans are unlikely to see a blowout as both of these teams are far too good to allow that at this point of the season. Three of the games have been one-goal overtime thrillers and the other was a 2-0 win, so it’s going to be tight. You have to give the edge to the Blackhawks on their home ice, and the story will be Crawford; after Rask took so many of the plaudits over the first half of the series, he’ll raise his game in the second half, starting with Game 5.
Pick: Blackhawks -150