Despite the ongoing COVID cancellations currently occurring throughout many NHL games at the moment, the Carolina Hurricanes have escaped their quarantine and they’ll be heading to Chicago Thursday night to take on the Blackhawks.
The Central division is currently quite tight at the moment, and despite the fact that Chicago entered the season with many injuries and concerns about goaltending and defense, head coach Jeremy Colliton is getting his group to really buy-in. It also helps that Finnish netminder Kevin Lankinen has seemingly emerged out of nowhere to provide stellar goaltending for this high-risk Chicago group.
The Canes meanwhile keep chugging along. Despite having to take a COVID-related hiatus, Carolina remains one of the NHL’s best-kept secrets in terms of on-ice performance. This is a group that does virtually everything well, and although starter Petr Mrazek is out injured, backup James Reimer is more than capable of filling the void. Expect Carolina to put an emphasis on their next stretch as they eagerly seek to track down first-place Tampa Bay.
Though many would have seen this game as a mismatch at the outset of the season, the pandemic and its impacts have proven to be a big equalizer thus far. Just two points separate these teams in the standings, and as a result look for both Carolina and Chicago to put a real emphasis on setting the tone as we approach the quarter-mark of this abbreviated season. For further analysis, team news, and a betting prediction – continue reading beneath the posted odds for our take on the Blackhawks/Hurricanes for Thursday evening. Enjoy!
Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Carolina Hurricanes (-185)
@ Chicago Blackhawks (+165)
Carolina Hurricanes -1.5 (+130)
@ Chicago Blackhawks +1.5 (-150)
Over 6 (-110)
Under 6 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks Pick:
Despite the fact that these teams enter Thursday night closely packed together in the Central division, let’s all recall that the Canes have played four less contests. Carolina has quietly been one of the better teams in hockey so far in 2021, winning six and just losing one game thus far. This is a group that has consistently dominated the shot-clock in recent years, and their underlying metrics continue to be impressive.
This is a group that many feel could upset the Lightning in this division, and this year they have already shown big improvements in terms of finishing those high-danger chances they so often control. The Canes boast a deep forward group, and a defense that does very well to suppress the offense of their opponents. Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov are already star talents up front, and despite not having last change against Chicago – coach Rod Brind’Amour should be able to comfortably roll four lines as they hold a decisive skill advantage.
As mentioned, James Reimer will fill the void between the pipes for the Canes, while only Jesper Fast remains out to injury.
Chicago meanwhile has been a bit of a mirage so far this season. Though their average record is keeping the team afloat, some unbelievable goaltending from relative unknown Kevin Lankinen has delivered this team results thus far. He enters his eighth start of the year with a 2.09 goals against average, and a .935 save percentage. Lankinen continues to mask many of Chicago’s flaws.
And there are many. This is a group hampered by injuries, and one which doesn’t do anything all that well. Chicago concedes frequent scoring chances against, and outside of Patrick Kane – this isn’t an offense that strikes fear in the opposition. Currently being without Kirby Dach and Jonathan Toews does not help matters either.
These teams last met Tuesday night, a match that was determined via a shootout in favour of the Canes. Though it seemed tight, Carolina controlled every aspect of that matchup, and now that they’re healthier for the rematch, there isn’t much hope for an overmatched Blackhawks squad. Carolina should control possession and dangerous scoring chances once again, and given the Canes’ defensive structure and rigidity, a one-dimensional Blackhawks attack shouldn’t offer up that much trouble.
This is a big-time mismatch that the markets feel is closer than expected. For all the great things Lankinen has done thus far as a rookie, he isn’t this good – as few are. Look for Carolina to exploit that, en route to a very comfortable victory on Thursday night. Take the Canes on the -1.5 handicap.