Date/Time: April 30th, 7:30 PM ET
Television: NBC Sports Network
Moneyline: Chicago -220
The 2013 NHL playoffs get started on Tuesday night at the United Center, where the Chicago Blackhawks will hope to get an early jump on the Minnesota Wild in the first game of the 1/8 Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
The Wild are decided underdogs on the NHL betting lines for a good reason. Not only are they playing against a superior team, but they really aren’t in the best of form right now either. G Nicklas Backstrom had allowed at least three goals in five out of six games before playing well in the playoff clinching win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. LW Dany Heatley is out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury a few weeks ago, while RW Jason Pominville has a concussion that has him questionable for the opening game of the playoffs. Needless to say, Minnesota isn’t in the best of shape, but it was still a remarkable season for the team. The offseason acquisitions of men like C Zach Parise really paid off, and this is where the Wild are going to be able to prove that they can play with the best in the league. Minnesota is a dangerous team that can win games like this one if the window of opportunity gets cracked open just a tad.
The biggest question for the Blackhawks is whether they can take the intensity that they had all season long and use it here in the playoffs as well. There was never a doubt that they were the best team in the regular season, but that doesn’t always translate into success when it really matters. Remember that the Vancouver Canucks have arguably been the best team in the Western Conference for years, and they have one Stanley Cup Finals appearance, no Cups, and a ton of disappointment to show for their work, including last year when they were beaten by the No. 8 Los Angeles Kings in the opening round. Chicago though, seems to be a little different. This is a team that has not just one, but two goalies that are playing with their hair on fire, as both G Corey Crawford and G Ray Emery had 1.94 GAAs this season, and unlike the mass majority of the players on the Canucks who only knew disappointment in the past, these Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup before and know what it takes to get the job done.
That being said, this is an insane price for a playoff hockey game. The Wild are good enough to win at least two games in this series, and that’s what these betting lines are insinuating that they won’t do. The Blackhawks very well could get a shocking result in their opening game of the playoffs, as we think that Minnesota has the goods to come on the road and steal the first game in this series.
Minnesota Wild @ Chicago Blackhawks Pick: Minnesota Wild +210
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.