I’ve been looking for one of those big nights despite hitting on three of my last four picks and profiting each of the last four nights while making picks, but last night topped them all.
Despite making just two free NHL picks I was able to nail down a large profit thanks to the calculated risks I took, and hit.
I really liked the Panthers to beat the Canadiens last night and was ready to play it safe on the moneyline, but said screw it and went on the aggressive and took them on the puckline at +165.
It was a little bit of a close game with the score tied at zeros after one and just a 1-0 Panthers lead after two. That said, Florida stretched that lead to 3-0 in the third and while the Canadiens made it 3-1, the Panthers added an empty-netter to seal a 4-1 win.
At about the same time, I had the Lightning as +120 underdogs in Boston where the Bruins don’t lose a whole lot.
I mentioned in my write-up that the game wouldn’t disappoint on entertainment value, and that was indeed the case.
The game featured plenty of goals, hits and fights, but at the end of it all was a 5-3 Lightning win. They took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, a narrower 3-2 lead into the second intermission but maintained control of the game with two third-period tallies.
All told, the 2-0 night netted my picks a +2.85-unit profit, something I write with a smile on my face.
Now, it’s time to put that profit in the back pocket and move onto this five-game Sunday night schedule.
Season Record: 108-93-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Blues vs. Blackhawks from the United Center in Chicago!
Blues vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds
- Blues (-135)
- Blackhawks (+122)
- Blues -1.5 (+175)
- Blackhawks +1.5 (-205)
- Over 6 (-105)
- Under 5 (-105)
Blues vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Blues rattled off an eight-game win streak heading into their road matchup in New Jersey as heavy favorites, but the Devils snapped that streak with a 4-2 win (and netted us +1.86 units in profit).
Despite leading the Central Division and Western Conference as playoff locks, the Blues still have plenty to play for as they sit just two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche with the Avs holding a game in hand in the Central race.
Of course, that top seed in the west ensures home ice advantage throughout the Western Conference side of the playoffs, so there’s plenty at stake for the Blues despite comfortable sitting in a playoff position.
Tonight marks the first of back-to-back games for the club as they host the Florida Panthers tomorrow night, but it’s a Central Division rivalry matchup tonight in Chicago first.
The Blues enter this one sporting a nice 17-12-5 record on the road this season, and it’s not tough to see why.
Their road offense is solid in a share of 13th with 3.06 goals per game, but their road power play has been excellent to the tune of a 25.3% clip, good for second in the NHL away from home.
For a team that’s been dominant on defense at home, the Blues have struggled a little bit in that area on the road.
While not a big concern, they are in a three-way tie for 15th with 3.09 goals against per game, giving them a slightly negative net average goal differential on the road.
Their road penalty kill hasn’t exactly helped at 22nd with an 78% mark.
The special teams have been trending in opposite directions of late with the power play clicking nicely at 38.5% over their last five games, but their penalty kill has struggled with a gruesome 54.5% mark during that same stretch.
One area where the team has struggled severely on the road is in the possession game.
At 5v5 on the road, the Blues rank 27th with a 46.51% Corsi For%, 23rd with a 46.12% Scoring Chances For% and 26th with a brutal 43.06% High-Danger Chances For%.
Fortunately, they’ve received strong goaltending on the road where they rank 10th with a .923 Sv% at 5v5 away from home, although we don’t know who starts tonight without a confirmed netminder at this point and the back-to-back on hand.
Jordan Binnington took the loss on Friday, and in order to get him an extra day of rest I would imagine it’s Jake Allen that goes tonight, and that’s a positive for their chances to win this game.
That’s because Allen has been the superior goaltender this season as well as the better road netminder. He’s been great overall with a 2.31 GAA and .922 Sv% on the season, but he’s also worked to a 2.26 GAA and .926 Sv% on the road in 14 starts and 16 appearances away from home.
If Binnington goes again tonight, he will bring a 2.57 GAA and .911 Sv% into action, but also a weak 3.10 GAA and .903 Sv% on the road in his 20 appearances there.
Again, I’d be surprised if Allen doesn’t start this one with Binnington sporting much better numbers at home where they play tomorrow night.
The Blackhawks climbed back into the fringe of the playoff race in the west with four consecutive wins and were set up nicely to make it five in Detroit on Friday, but they too suffered an upset loss that was a big blow to their already-slim postseason hopes.
They’ll need to go on another winning binge to have a chance as they have a number of teams to jump in the case for a Wild Card spot, but at this point it’s vastly unlikely they get in and that win in Detroit hurt bad.
To be honest, there hasn’t been much difference between their play at home and on the road as they are just 15-13-4 at the United Center and 16-16-4 on the road.
They haven’t been great in many areas at home.
Their home offense enters this one averaging 2.97 goals per game, good for a share of 21st, but their home power play has scuffled to the tune of an ugly 13% clip, good for 30th league wide.
Defensively, they sit tied for 18th with 3.00 goals against per game at home, but perhaps their strongest area is the penalty kill where they sit 12th with a nice 82.5% mark.
Like the Blues, their special teams are moving in different directions, but the opposite way of the Blues.
In other words, their power play has struggled mightily in going 0 for 10 over their last four, but their penalty kill has been strong in going 13 for 14 (92.9%) over their last five.
Like the Blues, however, the Blackhawks sport some concerning possession numbers.
At 5v5 at home, the ‘Hawks rank 21st with a 49.70% Corsi For%, 26th with a 49.26% Scoring Chances For% and 28th with a 48.54% High-Danger Chances For%. Not as bad as the Blues, but not much better at all.
In addition, the Blackhawks rank last in the NHL while allowing 34.4 shots per game, on average.
The good news is their goaltenders have been excellent at home despite the heavy workload as their .929 Sv% at 5v5 ranks sixth, but one of those netminders is no longer on the team as Robin Lehner was traded to the Golden Knights at the trade deadline.
Nonetheless, Corey Crawford has enjoyed a healthy, rebound season and he’s played well of late.
Crawford, the confirmed starter tonight, will enter this one sporting a 2.81 GAA and .916 Sv% on the season along with a 2.75 GAA and .913 Sv% at home where he’s gone 8-9-0 on the season.
He took the loss in Detroit on Friday, but turned aside 23 of 25 shots (.920 Sv%), but just didn’t get the goal support while he owns that same .920 Sv% in three March outings to this point.
Rivalry matchups are usually a lot closer than people think.
There’s plenty of pride in these games, but I can’t help but think that loss in Detroit was a big gut punch to a team that surely believed in rallying back into the postseason race during their four-game win streak.
Despite the winning culture and core of this group giving them plenty of leadership and no quit, the team’s moral can’t be overly high in this one.
Plus, there’s the case of the Blackhawks being the far inferior team as they sit 20 points back of the Blues entering this one tonight.
Their much weaker defensive game on the road is a concern, but the Blues have generated offense on the road and their elite road power play poses a threat to the Blackhawks’ lone quality department at home – the penalty kill.
Additionally, I don’t like to bank on certain goaltenders starting when they’re not confirmed, but I’d be shocked if Allen doesn’t start given his superior work on the road and Binnington’s excellent work at home. It just makes too much sense for Allen to go tonight on the road and Binnington starting tomorrow at home, plus the extra day of rest after playing in Jersey on Friday.
Allen gives the Blues a better chance to win tonight, and he’d give them the goaltending advantage as well.
Both teams were cooled off from win streaks on Friday, but I believe the Blues are in a better position to bounce back and grab the win tonight, so give me the road side on the moneyline in this one.