Our excellent month of February continued last night with a 2-1 night that netted us a one-unit profit.
I’m still kicking myself, however. With an expected Marcus Hogberg/Michael Hutchinson goaltending matchup in Toronto, the over already looked good. That said, given how the two teams matched up, I saw value in the Sens +1.5 at +108 odds. While the over hit in the second period with the Maple Leafs blasting the Sens, the puckline pick wasn’t close in a 7-3 Maple Leafs final. That loss cost us a unit.
At the same time, however, the Penguins were putting in a fantastic effort agaisnt the Islanders. We didn’t have to sweat this one as the Penguins took a 3-0 lead midway through the third and while the Islanders got within two with under five minutes to go, an empty-netter sealed a solid 4-1 win for the Pens on the moneyline at -114. We gained our unit back with this winner.
So, it all came down to the Wild on the moneyline at identical -114 odds in Anaheim. This one also didn’t give us a whole lot of trouble as the Wild built a 2-0 first-period lead and while the Ducks cut it to one in the second, a late Marcus Foligno tally gave the Wild a 3-1 win and another unit for us to turn our night into a profitable one!
We’re now 9-4 and +5.80 units for the month of February, so let’s keep it going with this Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes NHL pick from Carolina!
- Season Record: 17-19
- Units: -2.24
Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes Betting Odds
- Blackhawks (+153)
- Hurricanes (-170)
- Blackhawks +1.5 (-165)
- Hurricanes -1.5 (+145)
- Over 6 (-114)
- Under 6 (+103)
Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes NHL Pick Breakdown
The Blackhawks missing Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander entering the season severely diminished their offensive outlook, but they’ve hung in there well.
They’ll enter this one tied for 17th with 2.89 goals per game on the season, although a big reason as to why would be their 32.7% clip on the power play, good for third league wide.
Their 5v5 offense has been quite poor, and the advanced metrics back that up.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Coyotes rank 24th in scoring chances for/60, 25th in high-danger chances for/60 and 26th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 1.80 goals/60 at 5v5 is pretty much in line with their 1.95 expected mark, so this offense isn’t doing a whole heck of a lot at even strength this season, as expected.
The power play has been cooled off a bit of late, going just 1 for 8 over their last three while the Blackhawks have scored just two regulations goals in each of their last three games. That power play also ranks 12th in high-danger chances for/60 and 13th in expected goals for/60 on the season, so while it’s seemingly a good man advantage, it’s not third-place-in-the-league kind of good.
The top line featuring Pat Kane and Alex DeBrincat has been doing plenty of damage, especially on the man advantage, but it’s no secret they lack secondary scoring down the lineup as this offense should scuffle once the power play regression kicks in.
The Blackhawks’ defense was expected to be poor this season, and for the most part, it has.
Sure, the ‘Hawks rank 14th with 2.72 goals against per game on the season, but they also rank last with 33.8 shots per game as well. I’ll explain shortly why they’ve been able to maintain a top-half overall defense, but like the offense, the underlying metrics are not kind to this defense, either.
At 5v5 this season, the Blackhawks rank 28th in scoring chances against/60, 25th in high-danger chances against/60 and 26th in expected goals against/60. Their 2.42 goals against/60 at 5v5 is right in line with their 2.37 expected mark, but few teams are allowing more scoring opportunities than this Blackhawks blueline.
It’s a group that added the NHL’s hits leader in Nikita Zadorov in the offseason and the left side is strong with Duncan Keith and Calvin de Haan, but the right side of Ian Mitchell, Lucas Carlsson, Nicolas Beaudin and Adam Boqvist certainly isn’t the strong group we’ll see in the league while Connor Murphy is out with a hip injury at the moment. He’s been getting top-pairing minutes this season.
The Central division isn’t exactly chock-full of high-octane offenses which bodes well for this defense, a group that just shut out the Detroit Red Wings while beating them 3-2 in overtime two games back.
They haven’t been exposed much of yet, however, and there’s a reason for that.
Kevin Lankinen should be in the Hart Trophy conversation. No, not really, but there have been few goaltenders, if any, more valuable to their team than the out-of-nowhere 25-year-old.
Lankinen, who played six games in the ECHL as recently as the 2018-19 season, has burst onto the scene and turned in a 2.29 GAA and .931 Sv% across 12 outings while playing behind one of the worst defensive teams in the game.
Here’s a guy that posted a 3.03 GAA and .909 Sv% at the AHL level in 21 games and as noted, played six ECHL games two seasons ago and posted a 3.18 GAA and .893 Sv% in that time.
Has he been good? Absolutely? Has been lucky? Absolutely. Here’s some evidence:
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 18, 2021
There is going be regression on the horizon for the Finnish netminder, but of course we don’t know when. For now, he’s been a godsend for a team that entered the season with the worst goaltending picture in the league, but when the regression kicks in things could get ugly given how many scoring opportunities this defense yields.
Once the weak point of the team, the Hurricanes now sport a deep offense with three capable scoring lines and have been among the best groups in the league this season.
Indeed, Carolina enters this one ranked third with 3.57 goals per game on the season while their power play is humming along at 28.3%, good for the eighth-best mark in the league.
Like we’ve seen many times in the recent past, they are once again all over the leaderboard when it comes to advanced metrics. At 5v5, the Hurricanes rank third in scoring chances for/60 and first in both high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60. Their 2.85 goals/60 at 5v5 this season isn’t all that far above their 2.66 expected mark, so I’m not sure we should expect a halt in scoring from this dangerous ‘Canes offense.
It’s certainly an interesting dynamic up front. Their top three centers in Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal all skate together on the team’s top power play unit while Andrei Svechnikov — tied for second with 14 points in 14 games — is listed on the the third line alongside Staal who has a team-high 15 points.
At this point, it’s probably best not to label lines on this offense as they have three that are generating plenty of offense at this juncture.
The Hurricanes’ defense was once their calling card, but given the emergence of the offense it’s just another facet to one of the NHL’s most well-rounded team.
Their results haven’t been overwhelming so far as they sit 17th with 2.86 goals against per game on the season with a penalty kill that ranks 13th at a solid 80.4%. However, this time the advanced metrics are more towards the middle of the pack.
At 5v5, the ‘Canes rank 13th in scoring chances against/60, 17th in high-danger chances against/60 and 14th in expected goals against/60. Their 2.23 actual goals against/60 isn’t outrageously above their 2.08 expected mark, so this defense has more or less earned their standing this season.
Jake Bean has acquitted himself well in the early goings of his NHL career so far, but the top four of Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Jake Gardiner and Brett Pesce matches up with any other back end in the league despite Gardiner’s riskier style.
It’s also a well coached and structured group, and there are zero concerns about this defense despite their middle-of-the-pack standing at the moment.
Petr Mrazek continues to heal his broken thumb that required surgery, so it’s James Reimer going in this one, although third-stringer Alex Nedeljkovic has actually started three of the last five games, albeit with subpar results.
Reimer, on the other hand, has been real good of late, turning a .922 Sv% over his last two starts after getting shelled for five goals by the Blue Jackets three starts back. He’s faced 37 and 40 shots over his last two games as the Hurricanes have uncharacteristically yielded plenty of rubber of late.
For the season, Reimer owns a 3.10 GAA and .896 Sv%, but has gone 7-1-0 given the level of goal support the Hurricanes’ offense has provided. The veteran owns a career 2.81 GAA and .913 Sv%, so you’ll see his numbers improve moving forward and he’s certainly on his way to doing so across his lat two outings.
That said, he’s struggled in two meetings with Chicago this season, allowing eight goals on 67 shots, good for an .881 Sv%.
Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes NHL Pick
You can always roll out the ‘Canes excellent underlying metrics and make a case for them to win a hockey game as a result. I mean, they have been outscored 9-7 in regulation by the Blackhawks this season, so the game still needs to be played on the ice to be sure.
That said, I like the ‘Canes in this one. I was as skeptical as anyone about the Blackhawks’ chances entering the season, and they’ve certainly shoved plenty of my comments back in my face while they’ll enter this one 13th in the NHL in terms of points percentage, but have also won six of their last seven games.
While that stretch began with a 6-4 win over Carolina, Lankinen has mostly done the rest with wins over anemic offenses in the Red Wings, Stars and Blue Jackets. Dallas has scored a little this season, but much of that damage was done early.
In terms of expected goals for percentage at 5v5, the Hurricanes rank second at 56.10% and the Blackhawks 28th at 45.21%. Say what you will about advanced metrics, but this is a lopsided matchup.
I like Carolina here, but I’m not about to lay the moneyline juice, so I’ll pivot to the three-way moneyline at -110.