NHL betting favourites to win the 2017 Stanley Cup after the Nashville Predators decimated the Chicago Blackhawks – the erstwhile choice of sportsbook fans who bet on hockey – like the Predator did in Predator. Too bad Ahnuld wasn’t there to scream, “get to the choppa!”
Chicago Blackhawk Down
The ‘Hawks skated into the ice of the United Center on Thursday, April 13 as the Central Division champions and with the best record in the Western Conference (50-23-9, 109 points). They could even afford to lose their last four regular season games in a row – or maybe that was just a sign of things to come. The Blackhawks outshot the Predators 29-20 – 23-9 in last two periods, but all it took was a first-period goal by Nashville left wing Viktor Arvidsson to bring Chicago’s jenga tower crashing down.
Blackhawks fans who bet on hockey hoped against hope that it had been nothing but a fluke, but a second straight shutout home loss alerted them that something was rotten in the state of Illinois. Especially since this wasn’t only a shutout but also a 5-0 blowout. “It was almost like a chess match [in Game 1],” Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. He probably meant the chess game in that Harry Potter movie, what with all the crashing, and colliding, and whatnot. “[In Game 2] we wanted to be more attacking.” The ‘Hawks no longer looked like a heavy NHL betting contender, and their 24-13-4 road record mean little when they lost the next two – and the series – at Bridgestone Arena.
Penguins? More like Pen-wins!
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury became an unexpected hero in game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 12th. Unexpected above all things because he wasn’t even supposed to start the game, but then Matt Murray was injured during warm-ups. For those fans who bet on hockey who are wondering; no, he did not fell through the ice like Amy in Little Women. Fleury made 31 saves and the Pens took the 3-1 win. Both Fleury and the Penguins did the Blue Jackets one better in game 2; Fleury made 39 saves and Pittsburgh won 4-1.
As might have been expected, the Pens encountered more resistance in game 3 Nationwide Arena. And indeed, the Penguins were behind 3-1 in the first period until Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin made it even in the second. The hero of the day, however, was Jake Guentzel – who became the first Pittsburgh rookie to score a hat trick in the playoffs, including the game-winning shot 13:10 into overtime for a 5-4 victory. The Penguins’ hopes of a sweep were dashed when Columbus won their first regulation postseason game, but things went back to normal in game 5. The Penguins prevailed 5-2 and made it through to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where as stated at the beginning of this piece, they are the new NHL betting favourites to win it for the second year in a row.