The 2021 MLS Cup is preparing to begin and there are set to be 14 teams competing for the honor of being crowned champions at the end of a long season. But who is likely to be involved in the running for the title? Let's take a look at the betting picks.
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Nashville Predators Vs. Chicago Blackhawks Betting Analysis
By Angelo Montilla
Here is the breakdown of best-of-seven series, which begins on Thursday night. Odds courtesy of Bovada.
On paper, it’s a matchup of David versus Goliath as the Stanley Cup favorite Chicago Blackhawks prepare to face the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round series Thursday night at the United Center.
The Blackhawks, who will need to regroup quickly after dropping the last four games of the regular season, have been spectacular on home ice where the club has only dropped 10 games all season. Chicago enters the best-of-seven series as +180 favorites to come out of the Western Conference and return to the Cup final for the fourth time in seven seasons.
It’s hard to determine if this team is a dynasty. Regardless, the Blackhawks are the closest thing to it. Joel Quenneville’s Hawks topped the Western Conference with 109 points as the Central Division champs and were the only club in the conference to reach the 50-win mark.
Predators’ fans may want to plug their ears when the head-to-head history between these two clubs is mentioned. The Hawks have owned the series over the last 10 games, defeating Nashville seven times during that stretch — including posting a 3-0-0 record in the last three matches.
While there will certainly be no shortage of offensive opportunities, this series also has the makings of producing a goaltending duel.
The Blackhawks goaltender has quietly put together a strong season between the pipes. The two-time Cup champion posted a 32-win season to go along with a 2.55 goal-against average and .918 save percentage.
At the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne can expect a lot of rubber on net throughout the series as the Hawks average 30.6 shots for per game. Rinne will certainly be up for the challenge as the six-foot-five netminder also produced a strong season in Nashville with 31 wins and a 2.42 goals-against average.
Surprisingly, the Blackhawks’ powerplay hasn’t been as effective as in years past. During the 2016-17 campaign, the Hawks converted on 18 percent of their powerplay chances — ranking 19th overall in the NHL. They may have a tough time scoring on a Predators’ penalty kill that ranked 15th overall with an 80 percent rating.
If you’re considering betting on total goals during this highly anticipated series, keep in mind that five of the last 10 meetings between the Hawks and Preds have resulted in over outcomes. However, expect this matchup to be a tight-checking affair right from the opening puck drop.
The question is, how long will this series go and who will come out on top?
The Blackhawks are favorites for a reason. With their skill and experience this may be a quick series. Not quite a sweep but don’t be surprised if Chicago moves on after ousting the Preds in five.
Pick: Chicago Blackhawks (-180)
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