The Carolina Hurricanes pulled off a mini-upset in Columbus last night, as they sent the Blue Jackets a 3-1 heading into the weekend. With the Blackhawks on deck tonight, it’s a good win for the Hurricanes who avoided falling victim to a lookahead spot. Cam Ward stood tall in net and gave up just 1 goal. Scott Darling had the night off, as the Hurricanes wanted to give him a starter against his former team on Saturday.
Darling spent the first three years of his career as a Blackhawk. He was a serviceable backup for Corey Crawford in his time with Chicago. Darling became a luxury item for the Blackhawks. In other words, he was a better backup than most goaltenders in the NHL. He could have started for a lot of teams. Darling knew he was never going to be able to unseat Crawford as the starter, so he looked for an opportunity as a starter elsewhere.
Darling ultimately landed in Carolina, and has gotten the majority of the starting duties. The 33-year-old, Cam Ward, is slowly being pushed out as the starter, as they look to the younger Scott Darling. Ward is still a decent netminder, so the Canes don’t have the worst situation on their hands. In any case, motivation shouldn’t be a factor for Darling on Saturday night.
The Blackhawks need some motivation to get going here in 2017-18. They’ve been playing like they don’t care, and for the most part, a lot of teams don’t care before January. There’s a reason the Golden Knights are playing as well as they are. They are playing motivated hockey, with a ton of energy and effort being put forth. Key word here is energy.
I find it hard to believe they are going to keep it rolling in the second-half of the year. You know when you have been drinking and you finally hit that wall, or eat junk food and hit a wall later in the day, that’s going to be Vegas. Maybe I’m wrong with there. Heck, I’m off to the worst start of my career betting on the NHL, so they could prove me wrong. Let’s get straight to our Saturday NHL betting pick below.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Carolina Hurricanes Pick
The Blackhawks have been discombobulated thus far in 2017-18, but there’s one guy who has shown up to play. Goaltender Corey Crawford is having a productive year out of the gate. He enters Saturday night with a 1.87 GAA and 0.942 save percentage. In his last six games, he’s allowed more than 2 goals just once, which came against the Flyers in their last outing. In nine starts against the Hurricanes, he’s held steady with a 2.39 GAA and 0.924 save percentage. While Darling will be motivated, I can see Crawford looking to prove that the Hawks made the right decision by keeping him the number 1.
Darling has been playing decent hockey for the Hurricanes in net. He comes into Saturday with a 2.35 GAA and 0.91 save percentage. Overall, the Hurricanes have been a vanilla hockey team for a few years now and it doesn’t look any different this season. Average is a good word to sum this group up. The win last night against the Jackets was their second in a row after dropping four straight, and two wins in eight games. They’re 6-5-3 overall.
The Blackhawks have lost two straight, while getting just 1 goal against the Canadiens and Flyers. They have just 3 wins in their last ten games, as the offense continues to search for a rhythm this year. In the Hurricanes-Blackhawks last ten meetings, there’s been an average of 4.6 goals scored per game. In their last five games, an average of 4 goals with all of them going UNDER the total. Further, all of their previous five meetings in Carolina have resulted in less than 5 goals being scored in total. Crawford and Darling should duel it out, in what is a friendly rivalry between ex-teammates. I expect a 3-2 final for somebody.
*Forsberg has been announced as the starting goaltender for the Blackhawks. Not as strong of a play without Crawford, or a no-play if you don’t feel as confident.
PICK: UNDER 5.5 (-110)