I dished out a quartet of free NHL picks last night, and while the night started extremely well, the picks ended up in a split and a small loss on the night.
The first pick I had the Maple Leafs on the puckline to beat the visiting Devils by at least two goals.
They took a commanding 6-1 lead into the second half of the third period, but things got a little hairy when the Devils scored three times to bring the game within two. However, an empty-net tally sealed the win and the puckline win at -105 odds.
The next game to conclude also finished in our favor between the Sharks and Coyotes.
I had the Coyotes on the moneyline at home at -134 odds. They broke a 2-2 tie in the third and took a 4-2 lead, and despite the Sharks making it 4-3, the ‘Yotes added a pair of empty-netters and delivered us a winner with a 6-3 final.
The night took a turn for the worse at that point, however, starting with the Predators and Oilers where I had the over 6.5.
That pick looked excellent with the two teams tied 2-2 after one, needing just three more goals the rest of the way to hit. However, the Oilers scored the lone goal of the second and their empty-netter in the third was the lone goal of that frame as well while the 4-2 final fell under the total.
Finally, I had the Avalanche over the Stars on the moneyline at -138 at home, and this one hurt
The Avs took a 2-1 lead late into the third but the Stars tied it with a little more than five minutes remaining before capping the comeback in overtime on an Esa Lindell winner.
All told, the 2-2 night cost us 0.38 units.
Let’s turn our attention to tonight’s small two-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 77-65-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Blackhawks and Canadiens from Montreal!
Blackhawks vs. Canadiens Betting Odds
- Blackhawks (+160)
- Canadiens (-180)
- Blackhawks +1.5 (-165)
- Canadiens -1.5 (-110)
- Over 6 (-120)
- Under 6 (+100)
Blackhawks vs. Canadiens NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Blackhawks began their three-game road swing with a win over a good Senators home team last night in overtime, good for their second consecutive win after dumping the Ducks 4-2 on Saturday night.
The win was also of the comeback variety as the ‘Hawks trailed 2-0 in that one before rallying back and sending the game into the extra frame where Jonathan Toews won it for the road side.
Still, the Blackhawks are just 10-9-3 on the road this season despite winning three of their last four away from home.
They’ve been decent on both sides of the puck away from home, but nothing spectacular.
Their offense comes in at 14th with 2.91 goals per game on the road while their road power play sits 18th with an 18.5% clip.
Defensively, the Blackhawks rank 18th with 3.27 goals against per game on the season where their penalty kill has been among the best in the business with an 86.2% mark, good for second-best in the circuit this season.
Where they have struggled away from home – and at home – this season has been in the possession game.
The Blackhawks are tied for 19th with 29.5 shots against per game on the road this season, however their 36.9 shots against per game on the road is by far the worst mark in the NHL and their -7.5 average shot differential away from home is also, by far, the worst mark in the NHL.
The advanced metrics don’t paint a much prettier picture, either.
At 5v5 on the road, the Blackhawks rank 23rd with a 46.83% Corsi For%, 27th with a 44.41% Scoring Chances For% and 30th with a brutal 39.21% High-Danger Chances For%.
They also used the better of their two netminders in last night’s game as Robin Lehner earned the win in Ottawa and the team will almost surely go to Corey Crawford for this one tonight.
It’s been an extremely mediocre year for the veteran as he’ll enter this one sporting a 3.09 GAA and .906 Sv% on the season to go along with a brutal 7-13-2 record.
On the road, Crawford has put forth a 3.36 GAA and .905 Sv% where he’s gone 2-4-2 in eight starts and nine appearances while he’s been pretty solid with a 2.37 GAA and .909 Sv% in three January starts, although two of those three – including each of the last two – have resulted in losses.
The Canadiens were in yet another tailspin while riding an eight-game winless streak, but they too grabbed a win in Ottawa recently and they followed that up by blanking the Flames on Monday as well in a 2-0 final.
The back-to-back wins perhaps saved their longshot playoff hopes, but the Habs still sit seven points back of the second Wild Card in the east with four team to jump in front of them and that spot.
Still, they’ve played better over the last couple games despite still struggling on offense.
The Canadiens have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their last eight games and have not exceeded three goals in that time. They have averaged 1.88 goals per game over their last eight.
The defensive side of the puck has seen great improvement, however.
The Canadiens have allowed just one goal over their last two games to trend in the right direction after scuffling to keep the puck out of their net at home.
Their offense sits 25th with 2.75 goals per game at home this season, but their defense also sits in a tie for 22nd with 3.13 goal against per game at home.
Their home power play enters this one ranked 26th with 15.3% at home and their home penalty ill has also struggled with a 78.5% mark on the season, good for 23rd league wide.
However, where the Habs have excelled this season is in the possession game at home, although it has led to just a 9-11-4 record at the Bell Centre this season.
They rank first with 36.6 shots per game at home this season and tied for eighth with 29 shots against per game at home. Their +7.6 average shot differential per game at home is the third best mark in the NHL.
The advanced numbers strongly favor the Habs in this one as they sport some of the best advanced numbers in the NHL on home ice this season.
Getting the nod in goal tonight should certainly be Carey Price coming off that 31-save shutout of the Flames on Monday.
Price enters this one sporting a 2.87 GAA and .907 Sv% on the season, but has largely struggled at home where he’s posted a 2.92 GAA and .896 Sv% with an 8-10-2 record on the season.
However, he’s been excellent over his last two starts – both wins – with a .986 Sv% in that time and owns a 2.00 GAA and .935 Sv% over six January starts.
The Blackhawks are playing their second game in as many nights tongiht, and that’s always a tall task regardless of who you’re playing.
Given the shots on goal figures in this one, there is the potential for the Canadiens to absolutely bury the Blackhawks tonight and it would not shock me in the least to see the Canadiens put close to 50 shots on goal in this one as the NHL’s top-rated home shooting team versus the NHL’s worst shots against team on the road.
Although the offensive struggles are concerning right now for the Habs, I like their chances of busting out of that slump considering the massive possession advantage against a goaltender that is a shell of his former self.
There’s also the case of the Habs missing Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia up front, but keep in mind the Blackhawks are also missing Dylan Strome, Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw from their forward ranks as well as Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan from their blueline.
I also like to bet on Carey Price when he’s hot, and yes he’s hot.
He’s coming off that shutout on Monday and is one of the NHL’s most feared netminders when he’s on his game. I believe he’s on his game and I don’t see a scenario where he sees a ton of shots, either.
Given the massive possession advantage, the back-to-back situation for Chicago and a red-hot Carey Price for Montreal, I am going to take the home side to win this one tonight in regulation time.