NHL Odds: Hawks Begin Cup Defense Versus Blues

This could be the best series in the entire Stanley Cup playoffs. The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks (47-26-9) have drawn the St. Louis Blues (49-24-9) in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Game 1 is Wednesday night at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, starting at 9:30 PM ET on NBCSN.

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Although the Blues finished the 2015-2016 regular season with the better record, Chicago skates into the playoffs with shorter odds on the Stanley Cup futures market. The Hawks are the second-favorites at +800 (along with LA, Anaheim, Dallas and Pittsburgh), a step ahead of St. Louis at +1000. These two teams faced each other five times during the regular season; the Blues won three games, with the total split evenly at 2-2-1.

Chicago will be without defenseman Duncan Keith (nine goals, 43 points) for Wednesday’s opener. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has one game left to go in his six-game suspension for hitting Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle in the face with his stick. The Hawks also have a number of players listed as questionable for Game 1, including top-line centre Artem Anisimov (20 goals, 42 points) and second-line right wing Marian Hossa (13 goals, 33 points). The Blues will have all their key players available Wednesday.

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