It's all looking a bit one-sided in both Conference Finals so far. Currently 2-0 down in the West, the LA Kings need to change that in Game 3 versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Thankfully for them they are back on home ice at Staples Center where they are yet to lose in this year's play-offs. Impressively, they have only allowed eight goals in those seven outings. The Kings will also draw belief from the fact they rallied from this position against St Louis in the first round, going on to win the next four games to take that series. However, this time they are facing a better team; the Blackhawks have found a groove again and have won their last five.
Mike Richards is again a doubt. The Kings' leading post-season point scorer missed Sunday's encounter and is still feeling the effects of a hit from David Bolland in Game 1. Their captain Dustin Brown had 20 points in 20 games during their run to the Cup last year, but this time he has only 4 in 15. Maybe more worryingly, he has had just a single shot on net in the last two contests. There are similar stories throughout the LA line-up and for them it has to be about re-establishing the very aggressive forecheck that served them so well. An undersung factor in Chicago's form has been big Bryan Bickell; the power forward keeps pitching in with gritty goals and would be my outside pick for first goalscorer at 22.00.
We have to see the real side of the LA Kings tonight for the sake of the series, and they should be able to feed off the energy of their own fans. Chicago have been extremely comfortable defensively up to now but that could soon change. I think the Kings are worth backing on the basis of their home form alone. At 2.40 they are good value.
Best bet: Los Angeles Kings to win at 2.40