The Chicago Blackhawks look hell bent in getting back what they won in 2015, the Stanley Cup. The Penguins are the reigning champs, but the Blackhawks are poised to put up a strong push to get the Stanley Cup back. Right now, I would say the Pens and Blackhawks are two of the favorites to win it. There is no denying that the Penguins are going to have another run at the Cup in 2017. The core is still intact and any time Sidney Crosby is healthy, the Penguins are going to be major players. Next year, the Pens may be without Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in Pittsburgh with the goaltending situation. Like I’ve said in the past, one could be packing their bags for Las Vegas. As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, everything is looking fairly solid in the expansion draft. The following players are protected: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Corey Crawford. That’s a pretty good chunk of quality players projected, thankfully for the Blackhawks.
The Hawks will travel up north to Winnipeg for a clash with the Jets on Tuesday night. It isn’t the most desirable locale, but the Blackhawks will be going there on a business trip looking to take care of business. Chicago comes into Winnipeg with a record of 11-3-1 and a head of steam, with eight wins in their last nine games. The Hawks have been quietly asserting themselves atop the NHL, as they are currently easily in 1st place in the Western Conference. To be completely honest, there doesn’t look like too much competition for them right now. The Ducks are regressing and the St. Louis Blues haven’t been playing too well, and we can always count on them to choke up a hairball in the playoffs. The road to the Stanley Cup Finals may very well go through the United Center in downtown Chicago. We’ll see what kind of resistance the Jets offer tonight in Winnipeg.
This could be one of those so called trap games for the Blackhawks. They have been playing so well that they could be in a spot where they overlook their opponents tonight. The Jets are predictably 8-7-2, a game above .500 which is essentially what they’ve become over the last two seasons. A predictably average team who don’t provide much to get excited about. They’ll win, they’ll lose, and in the end their season statistically will probably represent the same results as flipping a coin. Flip a coin 82 times and you would hit around the .500 range. Watch the Jets play and you’re probably going to see them finish with a record around .500. Same thing, different event.
The Blackhawks have been scoring at a relatively easy rate, averaging 3.31 goals per game which is 3rd in the NHL. Defensively they started out particularly slow for their liking, but have since been looking better. Crawford has a pretty nice saver percentage of 0.934 in net. In their last eight games, they’ve allowed an average of just 1.7 goals per game. Conversely, the Jets are 23rd in the league defensively, with 2.94 goals allowed per game. While a lot of teams probably don’t like flying to Winnipeg, the Blackhawks have had a ton of success here. Note that they are 9-1 against the Jets in their last ten games. The Hawks are also 4-0 over them in their last four meetings. The price looks a little trappy to me here, but it’s hard for me to ignore the Blackhawk at this price.
PICK: BLACKHAWKS TO WIN -112