Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference Finals takes place tonight and we will see the Los Aneles Kings take on the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago. The game is scheduled for a 5:00 PM (Eastern) start time and will be televised on NBCSN. Current Betting Odds, according to Sportsbook.ag, have Chicago listed as the favorite.
Los Angeles +145
Over/ Under: 5 U -150
Analysis: With all the talk about parity in the NHL, we find ourselves with the last four Stanley Cup winners in the final four. Many did not think the Los Angeles Kings were going to make it this far this season, but when you get goaltending like Quick is providing, all bets are off. Jonathan Quick authored an amazing performance en route to securing the Conn Smythe Trophy during the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup-winning season in 2012. The Connecticut native is penning quite the sequel in 2013 as the fifth-seeded Kings visit the United Center for Game 1 of the Western Conference final against the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks. Quick helped Los Angeles turn aside fourth-seeded St. Louis in six games and sixth-seeded San Jose in seven while leading the NHL in shutouts (three), goals-against average (1.50) and save percentage (.948). Last season the Kings had very little trouble getting production out of their big guns, and the bottom six consistently chipped in with timely goals. This year it's been much more of a struggle. Collectively, their forwards only have 20 goals in 13 games and Carter and Williams account for almost half of them (9). They've also played so much in their own zone that only four forwards have positive corsi scores - Brown, Penner, Williams, and Lewis. They will need to play much more aggressively against the Hawks and stop relying so heavily on Quick.
Corey Crawford, who is Quick's counterpart, also has posted impressive numbers in the postseason - ranking second in GAA (1.70) and third in save percentage (.938). Crawford helped Presidents' Trophy-winning Chicago to a five-game series victory over eighth-seeded Minnesota in the first round before pulling out an overtime victory in Game 7 against Original Six rival Detroit in the second. After being held off the scoresheet in four straight contests, Patrick Sharp recorded his seventh goal of the postseason in Wednesday's Game 7 - tying him with Pittsburgh teammates Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis for the league lead. Perhaps Sharp's scoring touch can find its way to captain Jonathan Toews, who has just one goal in the playoffs after matching Patrick Kane with a team-high 23 during the regular season. Toews did collect a goal and an assist in all three meetings against Los Angeles in 2013. Chicago has killed off a league-best 97.6 percent of its short-handed situations in the postseason. Chicago advanced to the conference final for the first time since 2010. The Blackhawks won that series and felled the Flyers in six games to seize the Stanley Cup.
Pick: I like the Under in this one, Both goaltenders have been hot and with this being game 1 of the series I expect both teams to be a little conservative on offense. Jonathan Quick has had 3 shutouts this postseason and teams have put just 1.5 gpg against him. On offense the Kings have struggled to score all year on the road, averaging just 2.23 gpg away from home, while in their 6 road playoff games they scored more than 1 goal just once. Chicago's Corey Crawford has allowed just 1.7 gpg in te post season and the Blackhawks as a team have allowed just 2.1 gpg at home all year. In the Playoffs at home they have allowed more than 2 goals just once, with their home games averaging just 4.7 gpg in the playoffs. LA's last 10 games have averaged just 3.9 gpg, while Chicago's last 10 have put up just 4.5 gpg. I expect this one to be a 2-1 type final.
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