With one contestant for the Stanley Cup already confirmed, the Chicago Blackhawks can seal up the West and join Boston in the Finals. They've stolen a march on the LA Kings by winning on the road and lead 3-1 coming into Game 5. During Thursday's match-up they managed to buck the trend of home wins and twice cancelled out LA's lead, although it's always said that the fourth win is the hardest to get. The Kings are now way out at 11.00 to go through, but the Blackhawks came back from the same deficit in the last round against Detroit.
Niklas Hjalmarsson played just shy of 25 minutes in the absence of Duncan Keith and also added two assists. He's become an extremely reliable defensive presence for the Hawks and is a team leading +8 for the post-season. Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa also stayed hot with goals on the night; those two along with Patrick Sharp have accounted for over half of Chicago's play-off points. Jonathan Quick has been outplayed by opposite number Corey Crawford, whose contribution has been undervalued.
I think the Kings' hopes died when their home record was compromised, as they've only won once on the road in these play-offs. A big reason for this is that scoring has proved so difficult: in only two of those seven games did they manage more than a single goal. They know their best strategy for tonight is to keep it tight. Looking back to the clutch meetings with San Jose, backing under the 3.5 line would have paid out, so consider this again at 3.15. And back the Blackhawks to finish the series off at 1.95.
Best bet: Chicago Blackhawks to win at 1.95