Columbus Blue Jackets 2.85, Pittsburgh Penguins 2.25
This series seems to have one key rule – never take a 3-1 lead because you will throw it away and lose 4-3.
That pattern has played out in all three games so far and the Penguins made it even more devastating for Nationwide Arena last time out by executing the turnaround in a matter of minutes. A tendency to make basic defensive zone errors makes me doubt Pittsburgh's potential against stronger oppostion, as Monday night showed though they have the attacking capacity to take the game away from anybody and the Jackets couldn't live with them.
Their three leading scorers from the regular season Crosby, Malkin and Neal are all minuses and have no goals between them, it's in the depth lines where the Pens have exploited line matching most successfully. Of course the plus/minus stat doesn't display those stars' effectiveness on the powerplay and special teams has been a key part for both clubs, a contest shaded by the fewer penalties taken by the Penguins.
After a succession of one goal games Columbus are far from on the rack, however I think they may have just wasted their best opportunity and for 3.15 would back Pittsburgh over a -1.5 handicap.
Chicago Blackhawks 2.08, St Louis Blues 3.25
A shutout for Corey Crawford pulled a vital game back for Chicago to make it 2-1, calling who progresses from here certainly seems tighter than the odds of 1.51 to 2.45 in favour of St Louis suggest.
In a tight goalie duel Ryan Miller would like to have Jonathan Toews's first period shot back as it snuck through his five-hole, the Blues will feel they continued to do many things right on the night but failed to unsettle the Hawks as they had previously.
Chicago's skipper would be a great option to score again as he is no longer matched straight up against the injured David Backes who's absence was strongly felt, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville clearly noticed and has reshuffled Patrick Kane to that line to make it even more powerful.
There's only been one road win amongst the West's quarter finals so far and it seems the extra support is just providing an intangible edge, take Chicago to sneak this one in regulation and tie the series.
Best Bet: Chicago Blackhawks to win at 2.08