NHL Odds: Blackhawks collide with Canucks

By: Adam Markowitz | Friday, April 22, 2011

Last season, the Boston Bruins were the team that choked away a 3-0 lead in the playoffs when they were beaten by the eventual Eastern Conference champs, the Philadelphia Flyers. We're not quite at the choking stage yet, but the Vancouver Canucks have definitely at least thought about lifting their hands up to their own necks after losing Games 4 and 5 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals drops the puck at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on Easter Sunday at Chicago's United Center.

The first three games of this series found the Canucks always looking like the better team, but not necessarily the dominating one. They were able to score victories by grinding and doing all of the little things that a team that tallied 117 points in the regular season should be doing.

Roberto Luongo was fantastic in net, posting a shutout in Game 1, and coming up with respectable performances in Games 2 and 3, allowing five goals between those two games. Daniel Sedin had three goals and two assists in three games, while Henrik Sedin had four assists.

Ryan Kesler had a pair of points as well, and Jannik Hansen was a hero with a pair of goals.

Meanwhile, Chicago really hadn't gotten anything yet out of any of its stars. Corey Crawford had a GAA right around 3.00, Marian Hossa couldn't find his way onto the stat sheet, and there were a minimal number of players that had more than one point to show for their work in three games.

Apparently getting their backs pushed squarely up against the wall was just what the doctor ordered for the Blackhawks, though.

Despite the fact that they are going up against the best team in hockey, at least in terms of the regular season, Chicago manned up and smacked the Canucks in the mouth twice  Down three-zip, the Blackhawks came away with wins of 7-2 and 5-0 in Games 4 and 5 respectively, much to the delight of their NHL betting fans.

Suddenly, the stats have evened out. Henrik Sedin hasn't had a point since Game 3. Daniel Sedin only has one meaningless goal. Kesler has just one assist since that point. Hansen hasn't been heard from. Luongo has been run out of the building twice to the point that it was still a wonder until Friday morning whether he would even get the nod in Game 6 or not.

Things look a lot different for the Blackhawks as well. Duncan Keith now has six points, making him one of the top scorers this postseason, while Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp had five points apiece. Hossa has finally made his grand entrance into this series with two goals on Thursday.

Crawford has enjoyed two straight great outings as well, including posting his first career postseason shutout in Game 5 on the road. The only big name that hasn't lit the lamp yet for Chicago is Jonathan Toews, and even he has three assists.

It was only a few days ago which you could have gotten the Blackhawks at plus 120 to win Game 4 on their home ice in the Windy City. Now, that has totally flipped, as the defending champs are minus 120 to extend this series to a seventh and decisive game next week back in British Columbia.

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