Blackhawks vs. Rangers Pick – NHL March 18th

The Chicago Blackhawks were involved in a marquee matchup last night against the New York Islanders and tonight they find themselves in a similar role. Tonight they turn their attention towards another New York team, the Rangers. Last night they were able to dispatch the Islanders rather easily with a 4-1 win. Wednesday night they might find it a little more difficult against the Rangers. Specifically, the Rangers tight defense. The Isles don’t have an elite defense, but the Rangers do, and now the Rangers are able to catch them on a back-to-back. Also, I argue that the Rangers are a better team than the Islanders, something I bet we’ll see when the playoffs get started shortly. This is a meeting of two teams that will be right in the thick of things in the playoffs, with both having a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

I see the Blackhawks and Rangers having the important ingredients of a team that can make long runs. They’ve already proven it in recent years of course, and with both rosters still having a solid foundation from years past, look out the Hawks and Rangers in the spring. I must note though, the Rangers have been playing without their longtime starting All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Lunqvist is a good one, one of the best of all time, but Cam Talbot has risen up to the challenge and is making the loss of Lunqvist much easier on the Rangers. Note that Talbot is 13-2-3 since taking over for Henrik. He is most definitely staking his claim for getting a healthy pay raise with the Rangers or another team. With Henrik getting up in age, it might be the Rangers best interest to keep Talbot around. With that said, we’re going to have to see a bigger sample size of games to find out if this is for real or just a flash in the pan. He’ll get the nod at home tonight against the Blackhawks.

Chicago Blackhawks @ N.Y. Rangers

Not only are the Blackhawks and Rangers atop of the NHL overall, but lately they have been hot as well. The Rangers enter on a four game win streak and the Blackhawks are going for four straight wins tonight. On that four game streak, Talbot allowed only there goals in total. He’s been red hot along with the rest of the team. In their last ten games they have yielded only 1.30 goals against. Overall they are surrendering 2.25 goals a game, tied for 2nd in the NHL. Not an easy defense to crack, I suspect the Hawks are going to have issues finding the back of the net tonight. And note, the Hawks are 10-1-1 to the UNDER in their last twelve games when they are playing on no nights rest between games. The offense has been struggling in those scenarios.

The Blackhawks are equal with the Rangers defensively, as they are tied with 2.25 goals against. It easy to note why both teams have the ability to win a Stanley Cup this year. There are several numbers and trends that are pointing at this being a low scoring game. I already mentioned the 10-1-1 UNDER streak in Blackhawk games when they are playing back-to-backs. Additionally, the UNDER is 7-1 after wins for them as well. The UNDER is also 7-0 in the Rangers last seven games overall, and 6-2 for the Blackhawks. In the historical head-to-head comparison, the UNDER is 9-3 the last twelve meetings between the Blackhawks and Rangers, including a 3-0 streak their last three. You know what to do here.