Two teams remain in the fight to be named 2013 Stanley Cup Champions with the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins ready to go at it over one more best of seven series.
Game One is tonight at United Center in the Windy City and, by virtue of their top playoff seeding, the Blackhawks have the advantage of four home games. Chicago have the edge in the betting to win the series at 1.70 to Boston's 2.10, the Bruins have looked more impressive in getting here so that may well be worth taking on.
When looking at Boston's route to the Finals it's impossible not focus on that Game Seven against Toronto in the first round. Trailing 4-1 with 15 minutes of regulation to go they instigated a superb comeback, Patrice Bergeron being the man to finally tie the game in the final minute and then win it in overtime.
It encapsulated the Bruins' resilience and they've only lost one of their nine contests since then in casting aside the NY Rangers and Pittsburgh. Goalie Tuukka Rask is red-hot while up front David Krejci has stolen the show. Offensively, Boston have been much more dynamic than they've been given credit for. Either Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic would be a strong bet to score a goal tonight both at 5.00.
The Blackhawks had their own tricky moment in the conference semis versus Detroit and had to win three straight elimination games to resurrect themselves from a 3-1 series deficit. Chicago haven't been as free scoring as they were throughout the regular season however they've tightened up in their own end which is a often the best way to be successful in the playoffs.
Patrick Kane produced four goals in the final two games with LA to break a slump and the Hawks need him to continue that form. In my opinion Duncan Keith has been the best defenceman of the postseason and other strong blueline performances from Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson have helped make up for that loss in goals.
It's going to be a tense opening matchup and with the noticeable lack of special teams scoring we've seen from both teams recently under 4.5 total goals looks a good option at 1.88. Boston are coming in full of confidence and look great value to steal a road win at 3.15, at this stage it's extremely even and that isn't reflected in the odds so back the Bruins.
Best Bet: Boston Bruins to win at 3.15.