In the most exciting series of the Stanley Cup playoffs qualifier round, the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks have dazzled viewers with numerous goals, but one team will pull ahead after Wednesday's showdown.
After the Blackhawks blitzed Edmonton with a four-goal first period to help steal the opener 6-4, the fifth-seeded Oilers responded with a 6-3 win on Monday. Can they keep it up, or will Chicago's experienced roster rally back?
To better answer these pressing questions through a betting lens, check out abe Insights' preview, which features advanced stats, analysis of probable wagers trends and more on Wednesday's electrifying showcase.
Date: Wednesday, August 5
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Oilers 57%; Blackhawks 45%
Spread: EDM -1.5 (+180); CHI +1.5 (-190)
Moneyline: EDM -135; CHI +123
Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford has always gotten a lot of heat in the Windy City, and although he's already allowed 10 goals in this series, Chicago's defense isn't doing him any favors. Really, it's hard to beat back Edmonton's attack regardless of who's between the pipes.
Crawford is probable to start in goal across from Mikko Koskinen, who relieved an overwhelmed Mike Smith in Game 1 to stop 18 of 19 shots, and played well enough to help the Oilers even the series.
5.45 vs. 4.37: One issue both goalies might have is yielding rebounds. Koskinen gave up the fifth-highest percentage of rebounds per save, per MoneyPuck.com. That second number is Crawford's total, and he ranked only 26th among players with at least 30 games played.
44.4 vs. 30.0: These are the ridiculous power play numbers for both clubs in the series thus far. Edmonton has a whopping 4-of-9 success rate with the man advantage, while Chicago has managed to score on three of its 10 opportunities.
73 vs. 60: The Oilers tied for 11th in second-period goals this season, which is the first number here. After finishing joint 26th in that area with the latter total, it's unlikely the Blackhawks will replicate or improve upon their two-goal second periods in both prior games.
If the Oilers weren't so loaded on the attack, it might be tempting to think Chicago can get the job done. After all, its veteran core of forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, defenseman Duncan Keith and Crawford among others have won multiple Stanley Cups. But this new-wave Edmonton club is the real deal.
Per Sportsnet Stats, superstar Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins became the first players in franchise history to begin a postseason with two 3-point games. The GOAT himself, Oilers legend Wayne Gretzky, never started so hot.
Oh, but that dynamic duo isn't even Edmonton's best offensive player, at least this season. That honor goes to MVP finalist Leon Draisaitl, who was the NHL's scoring champion with 43 goals and 67 assists. To be fair, McDavid was second in points with 97 of his own, and he was the hero of Game 2 with a hat trick.
Provided Edmonton rides the hot hand with Koskinen guarding the crease, it seems like all the elements are in place for the Oilers to take a 2-1 advantage. Chicago does have some championship DNA and a slightly deeper stable of scorers, but when your stars are as good as Edmonton's are, being top-heavy isn't really a problem.
The teams have combined for 19 goals already, and while some may believe the offenses are due to crash back to Earth, there's simply too much talent on both sides and not enough convincing goaltending to discourage bets to push toward the Over once again.
Excluding the opening period of Game 1, Edmonton has shown itself to clearly be the better team. Maybe it was a letdown, or pressure of living up to favorite status, but at least the Oilers have recovered well since. Edmonton's spread is going to get the most action, and even the Oilers moneyline has long enough odds to merit a double-down wager.
Note: Odds current as of 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, August 5.
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