Online bookmaker: Blackhawks are 6/1 Stanley Cup favorites

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With minimal roster losses from its Stanley Cup-winning team, the Chicago Blackhawks have a real shot at becoming the first repeat champion in the NHL since the Detroit Red Wings went back-to-back in 1997 and 1998.

In fact, online bookmaker Bovada thinks the ‘Hawks have the best Cup chances of all 30 teams in 2013-14.

Following is the full list of odds:

Chicago Blackhawks 6/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 13/2
Boston Bruins 10/1
Los Angeles Kings 12/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1
Detroit Red Wings 16/1
Vancouver Canucks 16/1
San Jose Sharks 18/1
Edmonton Oilers 20/1
Minnesota Wild 20/1
New York Rangers 20/1
Anaheim Ducks 22/1
Montreal Canadiens 25/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 25/1
Washington Capitals 25/1
Philadelphia Flyers 28/1
New York Islanders 33/1
Ottawa Senators 33/1
Carolina Hurricanes 40/1
Colorado Avalanche 40/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 40/1
Dallas Stars 40/1
New Jersey Devils 40/1
Nashville Predators 50/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 50/1
Winnipeg Jets 50/1
Phoenix Coyotes 66/1
Buffalo Sabres 100/1
Calgary Flames 100/1
Florida Panthers 150/1

A few thoughts:

—- Can’t really argue with the ‘Hawks at 6/1. The one concern may be the center position, particularly after Dave Bolland was traded to Toronto. Remember, it was already a concern with Michal Handzus centering the second line heading into the playoffs. Could Brandon Saad fill that role?

—- Even with all its young talent, Edmonton at 20/1 seems rather optimistic considering the Oilers haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. Is Boyd Gordon that good?

—- For a long shot, you could do worse than Tampa Bay at 50/1. If the Lightning can get better goaltending than they got last season, they could make the playoffs and go on a run. We all know they can put the puck in the net.

—- Is Buffalo so bad that the Sabres deserve to be tied with Calgary for second-biggest underdog? We suppose it depends what happens with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. If those two are traded for picks/prospects, the answer may be yes. Otherwise, it’s worth noting the Sabres finished 2013 quite well, going 8-4-0 in April. They badly need Tyler Myers to find his game again.

No mic? No problem: Oilers fans sing American, Canadian national anthems

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There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.

With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.

Here is the Star Spangled Banner:

Here is O Canada:

Sami Vatanen returns to Ducks lineup vs. Oilers

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Good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who trail the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 in their second round series.

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen returns to the lineup Sunday for Game 3 — his first game since April 13, which was the opener of Anaheim’s first-round series with Calgary, because of an upper-body injury.

However, the Ducks will be without Kevin Bieksa, who is dealing with a lower-body injury.

Predators stifle Blues to take back series lead

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The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.

For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.

The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.

Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.

By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.

That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.

They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.

This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.

VIDEO: Ryan Ellis continues his incredible postseason run for Predators

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Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.

Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.

But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).

He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.

You can see it in the video above.

After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.

The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.