Monday, May 20, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Television: NBC Sports Network
Money line: Chicago (-134) Detroit (+122)
Total Line: 5
Chicago came into this season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs as a heavy favorite to win the Western Conference. After eliminating Minnesota in five games in the opening round followed by a dominating 4-1 victory in Game 1 of this series as a 191 home favorite, it appeared that it was well on its way fulfilling that prediction. That may have all changed after Saturday night’s 4-1 loss in Game 2 as a 196 favorite at home.
After peppering Detroit with 42 shots in the series opener that resulted in a three-goal barrage in the third period to seal the win, the Blackhawks could only manage 20 shots in Saturday’s loss. Corey Crawford has gone the distance in goal for Chicago in the postseason and while his overall numbers still look great there has to be some level of concern with the fact that he gave-up four goals on 18 shots in the final two periods of that game. The Blackhawks other goalie Ray Emery is no longer listed on the team’s injury report so he should be ready to go if needed.
Detroit came into these playoffs as the seventh seed in the West but quickly established itself as a legitimate contender to win the conference after taking-out No. 2 Anaheim in seven games. It was not always pretty with five one-goal games either way, but in the end a 3-2 victory as a 126 road underdog in Game 7 proved to be the difference. The Red Wings followed-up a lackluster effort in Game 1 with perhaps their best showing in the postseason this past Saturday night. The big question for Game 3 is can they turn this momentum into a 2-1 series lead?
If Detroit is going to grab that edge it will be up to players such as Henrik Zetterberg, Damien Brunner and Johan Franzen on offense and Jimmy Howard in goal. These three have already combined for 11 goals in the playoffs, but the real key will be Howard’s play between the pipes. He has allowed three or more goals in five of the Red Wings first nine playoffs games, but he looked sharp this past Saturday night. If he brings that form into Monday night’s contest than the Red Wings has a good chance to win.
Free NHL Pick
While there is no doubt that these two Central Division foes know one another inside and out, the Blackhawks clearly remain the better team in every phase of the game. Look for them to reassert that fact on Monday night with a hard fought victory on the road.
Chicago 3 Detroit 2
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.