Anaheim Ducks (+113) at Chicago Blackhawks (-125, 5 o/u)
The Chicago Blackhawks (48-28-6) handed the Anaheim Ducks (51-24-7) their first home loss of the playoffs in a 3-2 triple-overtime battle on Tuesday. Now, with the series knotted at one game apiece, the Western Conference Finals moves to Chicago where Anaheim will look to return the favor against a Blackhawks team that is 5-0 on home-ice. Game 3 goes tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern at the United Center.
Chicago’s defense, which was the second-best in the NHL during the regular season, has been up and down in the playoffs, largely thanks to the inconsistent play of netminder Corey Crawford. Crawford was outstanding in Game 2, though, making 60 saves in the six-period win.
“Both goalies are playing really well,” Chicago center Brad Richards said Wednesday to the Associated Press. “Big goalies that seem to fight through traffic really well. You know, when they see it, it’s going to hit them most of the time.”
While the Game 2 loss ended Anaheim’s home unbeaten streak, the team has still yet to trail a series in this year’s playoffs. To keep that trend going, the Ducks will aim to keep things simple on the road.
“Our game plan is to get the puck in deep and forecheck their D men, finish our checks, play down low,” Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin said to the AP.
The Hawks have been relying heavily on just four D-men since losing Michael Roszival to a leg injury in the second round. Anaheim is hoping that its physical style of play will wear down the Chicago blueline.
“You know, they’re [defenseman are] in good physical shape. Obviously they’ve been playing most of the year with four or five defensemen. They’re used to it. We just got to make sure we keep that puck down low and focus on our offense,” added Beauchemin.
Five of the last six games between these two have been played in Anaheim, and the Blackhawks won four of those five meetings; the Ducks did take the one game they played at the United Center in that span, 1-0, but Chicago has shown another level at home in these playoffs.
Pick: Blackhawks -125.
(Photo credit: Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_7562) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)