Considered by many to be the best teams in their respective conferences, the Pittsburgh Penguins (9/2 to win the Stanley Cup) visit the Chicago Blackhawks (6/1 to win the Cup) this Saturday night outdoors at Soldier Field.
The Blackhawks are a -125 moneyline favorite over the Penguins, who would pay +110 on the road upset.
Pittsburgh holds a five-point lead over the Boston Bruins for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins have earned points in six of their last seven games, but have lost each of their last two games in the shootout.
The Penguins allowed just 1.2 goals per game over a 4-1 SU stretch leading up to their last two games in which they've allowed a total of eight goals. The defense and goaltending will need to be better on Saturday against Chicago's dangerous offense and that will impact the NHL betting lines on both moneyline and totals.
Chicago may have needed the break to recharge the batteries on their Stanley Cup defense. After going 28-7-7 in 2013, the Blackhawks are just 7-5-7 (7-12 on the moneyline) in the new calendar year.
The best offense in hockey averaging 3.3 goals per game has hit a bit of a scoring drought with just three goals over its last three games, including a 2-0 loss to Phoenix going into the break and a 2-1 loss to the Rangers coming out of it.
Special teams often play a role in battles between two evenly matched teams. Both teams have been excellent on the power play this season with Pittsburgh scoring on 25.8% of its power plays (best in the NHL) and the Blackhawks scoring on 21.8% (third in the NHL) of theirs.
But on the penalty kill, Pittsburgh has a considerable edge ranking second in the league at 86.2% compared to Chicago's 25th ranked 79.8%.
In six meetings since 2006, Chicago and Pittsburgh are 3-3 SU against one another. Each of the last three games between these two offensive powerhouses have gone UNDER the total.
This is the type of measuring stick game that brings out the best in teams, so both of these elite teams should have no trouble getting up for this one.
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