It’s been a few days since I last released an NHL pick, and while I won’t go into too much detail, I will note that I made it two straight wins with the Oilers as +128 road underdogs in Nashville, a game they won by a cool 8-3 count.
It’s nice to rattle off a couple wins after a frustrating cold stretch, so let’s keep rolling on this six-game Friday night schedule!
Season Record: 105-92-1
Now let’s dive into this free NHL pick featuring the Blackhawks vs. Red Wings in an Original Six matchup from Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit!
Blackhawks vs. Red Wings Betting Odds
- Blackhawks (-161)
- Red Wings (+145)
- Blackhawks -1.5 (+150)
- Red Wings +1.5 (-170)
- Over 6 (-117)
- Under 6 (+106)
Blackhawks vs. Red Wings NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Blackhawks enter this one tonight riding a four-game win streak that has kept their slim postseason hopes alive.
Tonight’s contest marks the second half of a back-to-back set, however, after the ‘Hawks took down the Edmonton Oilers by a 4-3 count last night on home ice.
They’ll head out for a single-game road trip where they haven’t had much success this season, going just 16-15-4 on the road on the campaign.
The Blackhawks have been pretty mediocre on the road this season, not strong and not terrible in most categories.
On offense, they sit 15th with a solid 3.03 goals per game on the road where their power play sits 21st with a 16.8% clip.
That offense has been hot of late, however, as the Blackhawks are averaging 4.60 goals per game over their last five and 4.33 goals per game over their last three on the road.
Defensively, they rank 18th with 3.20 goals against per game on the road, but their strongest area on the road is their penalty kill that sits sixth with an 82.5% mark.
That PK has remained strong of late, going a clean 12 for 12 over their last four games.
Their possession numbers on the road aren’t overly strong, however.
At 5v5 on the road, the Blackhawks rank 22nd with a 47.12% Corsi For%, 28th with a 45.11% Scoring Chances For% and 29th with a 41.81% High-Danger Chances For%.
In other words, they’re getting dominated in terms of scoring chance share on the road.
The reason why hang around the middle of the pack defensively, on top of the strong penalty kill, is the work of their goaltenders that have posted a 15th-ranked .921 Sv% on the road at 5v5 play.
That number becomes more impressive when we factor in that the Blackhawks rank last with 36.3 shots against per game on the road, making life difficult for their netminders on a regular basis.
While Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford did yeoman’s work on the road this season, Lehner is now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights and part of the return in exchange will get the nod tonight in the form of Malcolm Subban.
The problem is that Subban has not been good this season.
Subban has yet to start a game for the Blackhawks, but worked to a 3.18 GAA and .890 Sv% in 20 appearances with the Golden Knights prior to the trade deadline deal to Chicago.
The 26-year-old has also been shelled of late, posting an .816 Sv% over his last five starts dating all the way back to December 27th.
The Red Wings will enter this one riding yet another losing streak as they’ve dropped six in a row entering this one tonight and last won back on February 18th in a come-from-behind win over the Montreal Canadiens.
After taking a 7-1 thumping at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, the Wings have actually battled hard in their last two games, dropping a shootout decision in Ottawa before going down to the wire in a 2-1 loss to the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche.
Still, issues at both ends of the ice persist.
The Red Wings enter this one ranked last with just 2.00 goals per game at home this season and have scored one goal in each of their last three games at Little Caesars Arena.
Their home power play isn’t quite as bad, tied for 24th with a 16.7% clip, although certainly nothing to write home about, either.
That power play has been decent of late in converting in three of their last six games, but are still under 18% in that time.
They had improved a little bit defensively at home as the season progressed, but ran into a rough patch in allowing 15 goals over three straight home losses before settling back in against the Avalanche on Monday.
They’ll still enter this one ranked 30th with 3.44 goals against per game at home while their home penalty kill sits last in the NHL with a 74.8% mark on the season.
The penalty kill has struggled mightily of late, going just 21 for 30 (70%) over their last eight games.
Like the Blackhawks, the Red Wings struggle in the possession game as well.
At 5v5 at home, the Wings rank 30th with a 46.98% Corsi For%, 30th with a 45.62% Scoring Chances For% and also 30th with a 47.13% High-Danger Chances For%, although that final number still towers over that of the Blackhawks’ same mark on the road.
We aren’t sure who will get the start in goal for the Red Wings tonight, but one would assume it will be Jonathan Bernier who has been the far superior netminder to Jimmy Howard and has had to come in for Howard the last two times that Howard has started.
Bernier has been excellent in his last two starts after Howard was pulled in the loss to the Wild as he’s posted a .924 Sv% in the aforementioned losses to the Senators and Avalanche.
It’s the continuation of what has been an excellent season for Bernier as he’s posted a 2.92 GAA and .907 Sv% while playing behind the worst defense in the NHL.
He owns a 2.83 GAA and .903 Sv% at home and has a decent 9-10-1 record to show for it. In other words, the Red Wings are winning almost half of the games that Bernier has started at home this season.
More amazing is the fact that the Red Wings have just two wins in games not started by Bernier this season.
There are two routes I would go with this game, one that’s safer than the other, in my opinion.
The first route is a Wings upset as notable home underdogs. Chicago is playing their second game in as many nights, they aren’t a good road team and they’re likely goaltender has been poor this season. If it’s Subban vs. Bernier, the Red Wings have a notable advantage in goal to help mitigate the lack of offense.
That said, I see ways that both of these team can generate offense in this one and I think that’s the safer play, the over.
The fact that the Blackhawks are red-hot on offense, even on the road, makes a Red Wings moneyline play risky and, obviously, it benefits the over.
On the other hand, it’s also their second game in as many nights with a poor goaltender going, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Wings generate offense as well despite how poor they’ve been in that department this season.
The over is 3-1-0 in Chicago’s last four and 3-3-1 in the Red Wings last seven.
Nonetheless, we can at least net a push here if six goals are scored, but I see this one resulting in something like a 5-3 or 6-3 final score, so I’m going to take the over with confidence tonight.