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NHL Free Pick: Wild vs. Blackhawks Betting Lines & Preview

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Weekly NHL Betting action sees the Minnesota Wild taking on the Chicago Blackhawks May 1 at United Centre. Cappers Picks provides free NHL handicapping tips all season long.

The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks get back on the ice Friday night in Game 1 of their second round Western Conference series.

Daily NHL Hockey Odds

Minnesota (50-30-5-3) at Chicago (52-30-3-3)
When: 9:30 PM ET, Friday, May 1, 2015
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Broadcast: NBCSN, SN, TVA2
Wild NHL Betting Odds: +1½ -255 +124
Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds: -1½ +215 -137
NHL over under Betting Odds: Under 5 -114
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The teams have a deep recent playoff history – the Hawks have knocked the Wild out of the playoff two straight years.

The Blackhawks beat the Predators in six games while Minnesota upset second-seeded St. Louis in six games – both teams have had some time to heel up and both should be ready for Game 1.

The Minnesota Wild were impressive in their dispatching of the St. Louis Blues in Round 1 and they bring an element of revenge, momentum and perhaps the biggest difference maker Devan Dubnyk into Game 1 Friday night. The Wild aren’t to be taken lightly especially with Dubnyk in the crease. He is the difference maker that the Wild lacked in playoffs past.

Dubnyk was 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .936 save percentage for the Wild in the regular season and posted a 2.32 GAA and a .913 save percentage in Round 1 against a pretty potent St. Louis attack.

The Wild head into Game 1 playing very well offensively as well. The top line of Parise, Granlund, and Pominville combined for 17 points against St. Louis. The problem is that the secondary scoring was underwhelming – Nino Niederreiter was the only other Wild player with more than three points.

Thomas Vanek was virtually invisible – he had two assists against St. Louis – they will definitely need more from him in Game 1. Minnesota scored on four of 12 power play chances against St. Louis – impressive

Minnesota’s defense was good against St. Louis but they will have a different type of challenge in Chicago. The Wild will have to contend with three quality scoring lines – the tone will be set Friday night.

The good news for the Chicago Blackhawks heading into Game 1 is that their best position players did their jobs in Round 1. The bad news is that goaltender Corey Crawford, who guided them to the 2013 Cup wasn’t great and was even benched for three games against the Predators. That said, this is the Chicago Blackhawks we are talking about – they have immense playoff experience, they are dangerous up and down the lineup and they have had Minnesota’s number in the playoffs.

Against Nashville the Hawks looked every bit the talented offensive juggernaut that they should have been all season long. They welcomed Patrick Kane back to the lineup after a broken arm – he had seven points in the six games against Nashville, Jonathan Toews leads all players with eight postseason points, Brad Richards had five points and Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, explosive Brandon Saad, Brian Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Antoine Vermette—and late season pickup Andrew Desjardins proved superior depth. Chicago should be able to score goals – the only thing standing in their way is Mr. Dubnyk.

The Hawks defense should be able to slow the Wild offense in Game 1 – Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Michal Rozsival, Kimmo Timonen, Nik Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya are a terrific corp. – the huge question is whether or not Corey Crawford does his part. The penalty kill was an issue as well – they surrendered six power play goals. Against the best statistical power play from Round 1, this could be an issue in Game 1.

Speaking of Crawford – he has been named starter for Game 1. He had a 4.19 GAA and .850 save percentage in the first round against a Nashville team that was hardly a potent offensive squad.

Crawford did play well against Minnesota this season however – he posted a .948 save percentage during the regular season.

NHL Gambling Trends

• Over is 4-0-4 in MIN last 8 games following a win.
• MIN are 17-4 in their last 21 road games.
• Over is 4-1-3 in MIN last 8 overall.
• Under is 7-3-1 in CHI last 11 home games.
• CHI are 89-40 in their last 129 home games.
• Home team is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings.

The Blackhawks are 22-4 in their last 26 home playoff games, outscoring their opponents 88-54 in that stretch. The Wild are winless in six postseason games at Chicago, managing just eight goals in those losses.

Game 1s are often difficult to handicap – emotions are a funny thing. But off layoffs and with both offenses entering with a ton of confidence my play here is the Over – 5 goals.

NHL Betting 4* Free Play

Chicago will be out to make a statement against Mr. Dubnyk and Corey Crawford has been very generous so far in the playoffs. I expect a 4-2 game.

The Over – 5 goals

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