This marks my third free NHL pick of the night and in case you haven’t had a chance to check out my first two I will briefly recap a beauty of a win last night at +128 odds.
I had the Blues to go into Edmonton and knock off an Oilers team that sports some rather mediocre home numbers this season, but were getting away with it. Sure enough, the Blues came out with a 5-2 win on the back of a two-goal second period that put them ahead 3-1 entering the third period. They managed to hold off the Oilers’ third-period surge before scoring a pair of empty-net goals to seal the deal and net us some nice profits in the process.
Season Record: 13-9
My third free NHL pick of the night features the Canucks vs. Blackhawks from the United Center in Chicago.
Canucks vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Over 6 (-115)
Under 6 (+104)
Canucks vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick
It’s a Western Conference tilt tonight from Chicago between the Vancouver Canucks and a Blackhawks team that needs to get things going if they plan on getting into the postseason for the first time in three years.
The Canucks have been one of the more surprising stories in the NHL this season. We knew the forward group had potential with the likes of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat aboard, however I’m not sure we saw them realizing it so soon. The Canucks enter this one averaging 3.47 goals per game on the season, good for the sixth-best mark in the league. However, while they lead the league in home offense with a ridiculous 4.67 goals per game, the Canucks slip to the middle of the pack with just 2.67 goals per game on the road this season.
While the offense has been dynamite, perhaps the more surprising part of their hot start to the season has come on the back end. Vancouver has allowed just 2.33 goals against per game this season, tied with the Boston Bruins for the third-best defense in the league. Their road defense sits with that same 2.33 goals against per game mark, the fourth-best number in the NHL. As a result, they have averaged 1.13 goals per game more than the opposition this year, a number that falls behind only the Bruins (1.40) and the Predators (1.20). They’re also out-shooting the opposition by an average of four shots per game, good for fifth in the league.
On the whole, the possession numbers are there to back it up as the Canucks’ 52.84% Corsi For% at 5v5 play ranks fourth in the NHL behind only the Penguins, Hurricanes and Flyers. Furthermore, the Canucks’ 55.12% Corsi For% at 5v5 on the road is by far the best mark in the NHL with the Bruins’ 52.36% figure ranking second.
Getting the nod in goal tonight will be Jacob Markstrom who is in the midst of a career-year. The 29-year-old enters this one sporting a 2.45 GAA and .918 Sv% on the season while his numbers improve on the road to a 2.34 GAA and .921 Sv% across six starts.
On the Blackhawks side of the ledger, it’s been a tough go. They have just four wins in 14 games on the season and just three over their last 10. After seemingly getting back on track with a 5-1 thumping of the Kings in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks have dropped three of four, including a loss to the Kings back at home on November 2nd. Most recently, Chicago dropped a 4-2 decision in San jose while mustering just 21 shots on goal.
The offense just hasn’t been there. Despite some real talent in their top six, the Blackhawks rank 29th with just 2.36 goals per game on the season and while that numbers improves to 2.75 at home, it’s still good for just 27th in that department. This is coming from the league’s eighth-ranked offense from a season ago.
Things have at least tightened up defensively. After finishing last season as the league’s 30th-ranked defense, the Blackhawks rank 17th with 3.07 goals against per game this time around while their home defense improves to 15th with 2.75 goals against per game. As you might be able to see, the Blackhawks actually haven’t been too bad at home with a zero goal differential and a 3-3-2 record to show for it. A good chunk of their struggles come on the road where they are just 1-4-1 on the season.
Getting the nod in the Chicago crease tonight will be Corey Crawford who has scuffled big-time to the tune of a 3.74 GAA and .892 while netting just one win in five tries. He’s made three of his six starts at home where he’s posted a 3.40 GAA and .890 Sv% on the season, although his lone victory on the season indeed came at the United Center.
In said start, Crawford turned aside 27 of 28 shots in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers – a win that ended Edmonton’s undefeated start to the season at the time. He’s allowed four goals in each of his three starts since and most recently lost that 4-3 overtime game to the Kings on Saturday. However, he was actually a bright spot in that one as he made 40 saves on 44 shots, good for a solid .909 Sv%.
Certainly, things don’t look great for the Blackhawks entering this one, but I’m liking them as home underdogs in this one. While the Canucks have posted some excellent numbers across the board, I can’t help by see regression in them. I mean, is this team really a top-four defense? On paper, they certainly aren’t and while that sometimes doesn’t matter, I still have a hard time believing they can keep preventing goals at 2.33 per game.
At the same rate, I’m looking for the Blackhawks’ offense to find its game any time now. Jonathan Toews’ slow start isn’t helping, but with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat aboard I think we’ll start to see their offense pick the pace up, especially now with 2018 first-rounder Adam Boqvist up with the big club and providing an offensive spark from the blueline.
Vancouver has dropped two of three and scored just one goal in each of those two losses. The offensive regression is kicking in, and I think we’ll continue to see this team regress some more as the season moves along.
Give me the home underdogs tonight from the United Center.