Los Angeles Kings - Chicago Blackhawks
Defending Stanley Cup holders Chicago will face elimination back on home ice Wednesday night unless they can raise their game and steal a road success in LA later today.
They've already had one attempt at it in Game 3 but were rebuffed by a 4-3 scoreline that flatters them based on the latter two periods. From a neutral perspective it's great to see the Kings making a much better fist of it than this time last year and they're now favourites to progress at 1.48.
For the Blackhawks there's some soul searching to do because to take the first lead in all three contests and only come out with one victory is criminal at this stage of the postseason.
Jeff Carter was named first star for the second game in a row on Sunday and his unit supported by a big push from the defensive group propelled LA to victory once more. Hawks skipper Jonathan Toews is doing his best to answer the bell but can't do it alone even though his line is somehow quite brilliantly managing to keep Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik quiet at the same time.
The starkest individual stats for Chicago are their joint leading goalscorers from the first two rounds Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell sitting with no points to their name in this series. They've not been nearly as bad as Michal Handzus though and I can't grasp Joel Quenneville's persistence with the 37-year-old as his second line center when the Czech also has zero points and a third of the team's penalty minutes to his name.
A quick scan of the goaltending statistics might suggest that Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick were having rough times of it right now with each posting save percentage of just under .890 through three. In reality it's hard to criticise either of their efforts so far and it'll likely come down to who can make the timely stops more than anything.
Momentum would change with a save of that ilk from Crawford but there's no question now which set of skaters looks more at ease in this matchup and they're wearing black. Take the Kings to make it three on the bounce tonight.
Best Bet: Los Angeles Kings to win at 2.30.