Chicago Blackhawks (+127) at Minnesota Wild (-140, 5 o/u)
After two disappointing losses on the road, the Minnesota Wild return home tonight hoping to avoid falling behind 3-0 in their Western Conference semifinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 PM Eastern at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul).
The Wild nearly overcame a three-goal deficit in Game 1, ultimately falling 4-3. Game 2 was a completely different story; Minnesota was outplayed from start to finish by the Blackhawks’ stars and wound up on the business end of a 4-1 score.
This is familiar territory for the Wild, who faced Chicago in last year’s playoffs, as well, and now find themselves down 2-0 for the second year in a row.
“We can draw upon the past. Last year we were able to win a couple games and get back in the series, but we have to learn from this,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “Our confidence is not shaken. I still feel like we’re going to win the series and our players still feel like we’re going to win the series.”
For the Blackhawks, their strong play in the postseason has coincided with the return of star forward Patrick Kane. The 2013 Conn Smythe winner has scored in each of the past three games, all Chicago wins. But for Kane, the Ws are all that matters, not the personal achievements.
“We’re not about numbers right now. We’re worried about taking care of business, getting the wins,” Kane said. “We did that twice here at home. We got the job done here.”
Trend-wise, Chicago has won seven of the last ten against Minnesota, but the last time they traveled to Xcel Energy Center, they wound up falling 3-0. Moreover, they lost Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota during last year’s playoffs. Tonight, look for the Wild to come out motivated and get back in the series.
Pick: Wild (-140).
(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.)