Martin St. LouisWe’ve reached a make or break point in the NHL conference finals as both the Western and Eastern playoffs have reached a decisive game 5 where one team has a 3-1 lead on the other. Obvious pun or not, the odds are not looking good for the Canadiens and the Blackhawks, which makes my original prediction of Rangers vs. Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals seem a lot more viable. The majority of the time in any best of seven series, whether it’s the NBA, NHL, or MLB the team down 3-1 doesn’t come back to win the series. Let’s take a closer look at the action though and see what’s possible. The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens hit the ice tonight at 8:05 PM ET, with the Rangers getting to the clincher after pulling out a 3-2 victory in OT at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The match was as even as the score suggests – Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 out of 29 shots on goal while Dustin Tokarski stopped 26 out of 29 – same number of attempts but one more by the Rangers found the net. That winning shot was provided by Martin St. Louis, his 6th goal of the playoffs. One might suspect OT is a possibility again given the Habs want to notch at least one more win, especially given tonight’s game is home ice for them at the Bell Centre. The oddsmakers don’t see it that way though – it’s -330 for no overtime and +270 to go to sudden death at 5Dimes Sportsbook. That’s not nearly as long as the odds for the Habs to sweep the next 3 games though – they’re a whopping +700 to come from behind and the Rangers are nearly a cinch at -1100. Does that mean they’ll clinch tonight though? You have a little more time to think about the Blackhawks and the Kings as that game doesn’t drop puck until 8:05 PM ET on Wednesday night. Even though Chicago is in a 3-1 hole right now they’re actually the favorite on the money line, which is even more surprising when you consider that the Kings crushed the Blackhawks 5-2 in game 4. If you want to bet on them to pull within a game of tying up the series they’re currently -140, with a +120 to the Kings. Pride can certainly motivate Chicago to not get crushed again, or knocked out of the hunt for Lord Stanley’s trophy altogether, but playing on home ice at the United Center should provide EXTRA motivation for the team. They were unbeaten in the playoffs on home ice until this series started, so getting back to their winning ways in front of their rabid fans is perhaps not such a stretch. They’re just as much of a dog when it comes to the idea of sweeping the next 3 though – +525 for the series against -750 for the Kings. It’s always tempting to bet a dog, but in boxing there’s always a puncher’s chance in any one fight – whereas right now in hockey these two teams are on the ropes gasping for air. Please remember these previews are for entertainment purposes and if you wager to do so responsibly and only bet what you can afford.


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