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Blackhawks Are Certainly Not The Penguins Of The Western Conference

Posted by Carter Brown on 6/11/2013 7:39:42 PM

When the 2013 NHL playoffs got underway, it was the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks that were listed as the online sports betting favorites to play for the Stanley Cup. After all, they were the two teams that finished with the best record in their respective conferences during the regular season, and were very similar in many ways based on their overall skill levels. While the Presidents trophy-winning Blackhawks managed to reach the Finals, the Penguins fell short in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. Now it’s Boston and Chicago set to battle in an Original Six showdown in the Stanley Cup Final, and the Blackhawks want to make it clear that they are not the Penguins of the Western Conference.

A number of Chicago players were asked if they felt they had reason to worry about the similarities between them and Pittsburgh in regards to the way that the Bruins dominated their Western Conference Final. After all, Boston had held the high-flying Penguins’ offense to just two goals in four games, outscoring them 12-2 in the four-game sweep. However, the Blackhawks were quick to dismiss the theory, noting that they felt they were a better defensive team than Pittsburgh. Andrew Shaw even went as far as to predict the Stanley Cup Finals would be a tight-checking, defensive series that might favor the UNDER in many games as far as sports betting on the game totals, and while it might be a little too early to determine how the teams will play one another, the numbers certainly support the theory of a low-scoring series.

Unlike the Penguins, the majority of the Blackhawks’ offense is the result of a tight checking, two-way game that helps them create a ton of opportunities in transition. Chicago’s skill allows them to transition from defense to offense in a flash, and we have seen them catch opponents off guard time and again this online sports betting season. The Blackhawks allowed just 11 goals in five games against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final and have conceded an average of 1.94 goals per game, which ranks them third in these playoffs behind only Boston and Los Angeles. However, when you take away empty-net goals and focus on just the work that Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford have faced for the bruins and Blackhawks respectively, they have almost identical goals against averages in the playoffs at 1.74 and 1.75.

The biggest question mark heading in to this series for Chicago is the play of Crawford, who has looked good throughout these playoffs but is still not considered to be on the same level as Rask. The Blackhawks will need Crawford to hold his own opposite Rask and play at an elite level in this series, and that could be the difference in determining which team raises the Stanley Cup when it is all said and done. Chicago is certainly not the Penguins of the Western Conference, but the Blackhawks do have a tough road ahead of them in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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