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Stanley Cup, Game 4

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Line: Boston (-140); Total set at 4.5

Since making that miraculous comeback against Toronto in Game 7 of the first round the Boston Bruins have only gotten stronger. They went up 3-0 on the Rangers before eventually taking that series in five games. Boston then went into Pittsburgh - the top team in the East and highest scoring team in the league – and obliterated them in four straight games, holding the Penguins to only two goals the entire series.

Heading into Game 4 tonight, the Bruins have rebounded after a bad third period of Game 1 and have only allowed two goals in over nine periods since then. They are back to playing that physical, frustrating defense that Pittsburgh couldn’t handle and it doesn’t appear that Chicago can either. The Blackhawks were the 2nd highest scoring team this season and like Pittsburgh they can’t seem to solve this collapsing defense that the Bruins employ. However, Chicago gets sniper Marian Hossa back in the lineup tonight and his return could be the spark this Blackhawks team needs to even up this series.

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Yet, before you can trust Chicago to win with your money, you’ve got to trust that they can score. Hossa being a late scratch in Game 3 screwed up the entire chemistry of that Chicago lineup and it showed for the entire 60 minutes. The Blackhawks powerplay – which was abysmal before – was the worst it’s been in weeks (0-for-5) and the Hawks were outshot for the first time in this series. Without Hossa out there to worry about, Boston’s defense was able to key on Toews and Kane better than they have all series and those two Chicago players looked lost at times out there.

With Hossa back things change though. Zdeno Chara will draw the assignment of shutting down Hossa again and that will free up things for Kane and Toews. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Coach Joel Quinnville puts those two together on a “loaded” up 1st line just to spark this struggling offense even more.

The good news for Hawks fans is that they’ve only been shutout once before this entire season (Game 4 vs. Detroit) and they bounced back in a “must-win” scenario the next time out and scored four goals. Although that game was at home, Chicago managed to score twice with the man-advantage late in the 2nd period to break it open and coast to a 4-1 win. It likely won’t be that easy this time around but the signs are there that Chicago will be able to pot a few behind Rask tonight and that’s a huge positive for the Hawks tonight.

It’s still difficult to trust them to come out with the win though because if they are going to be more aggressive and take more chances offensively they will leave themselves exposed on the back-end. Boston has shown all playoffs that they thrive in those scenarios and score a few themselves.

Therefore, with the total being at 4.5 for the first time all series I think it’s safe to say we can expect some goals tonight. Chicago doesn’t have a choice but to be overly aggressive and after Rask’s two previous shutouts in these playoffs the ‘over’ has cashed easily.

Take the over.
 

  
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