The Detroit Red Wings are 9/5 underdogs to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of their second-round series tonight at the United Center, according to online bookmaker Bovada.
That the ‘Hawks are the betting favorites is no surprise. They were the best team in the NHL during the regular season, they’ve got home-ice advantage, and they’ve won two straight since dropping Games 2, 3, and 4 of the series.
That said, there’s reason to believe Detroit could pull off the upset.
First of all, nobody can say the Wings stole any of their three victories, even though goalie Jimmy Howard did play extremely well in them.
Detroit also boasts plenty of big-game experience on its roster, led by three of the most accomplished playoff performers in the league, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Johan Franzen.
Among active NHLers, Zetterberg ranks fourth with 113 points in 122 postseason games; Datsyuk is eighth with 103 points in 139 games; and Franzen is 17th with 79 points in 101 games.
And then there’s the head coach, Mike Babcock. If anyone can get a team prepared for a big game, it’s Babcock, who in addition to leading the Wings to a Stanley Cup title in 2008 also coached Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2010.
Yes, Detroit has lost Game 7’s under Babcock — most notably in 2009 when it dropped Game 7 of the Cup finals to the Penguins.
But really, the pressure is on the Blackhawks tonight. If the Wings lose, oh well, a lot of people didn’t even expect them to make the playoffs in their first season without Nicklas Lidstrom.
“If I would have told our whole team before this series, if I would have told Detroit, Michigan before this series, that we were going to be playing Chicago in Game 7, I think everyone would have been pretty excited about that,” Babcock said Monday. “I love Game 7s. I’m excited about it. We’ve got a chance to push them out of the playoffs — should be a lot of fun.”