The Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks meet twice over the next three days at the United Center. The Panthers are coming off a 7-4 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday in Tennessee. Jonathan Huberdeau was on fire against the Preds, as he recorded 2 goals and 3 assists to lead the Panthers with 5 points.
Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett both chipped in with 3 points each, Bennett with 3 assists and Barkov with 2 goals and an assist. This was a nice response for the Panthers after they were 4-1 losers in the front-end of the series in Nashville. It was at least nice for the offence, but Sergei Bobrovsky was off again between the pipes. Bobrovsky allowed 4 goals on 21 shots for a 0.809 save percentage.
Joel Quenneville’s group has been strong this season with a record of 32-14-5 and 69 points. They have a slim advantage on the Tampa Bay Lightning by a point, and two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the lead in the Central Division. It’s been a good season for the Panthers, as Quenneville has done a fine job giving this team a chance to go deep in the playoffs.
It’s always going to go back to the goaltender, though, and in this case Bobrovsky. After an all-star career in Columbus, the Panthers opened up their wallets to sign what was supposed to be an elite goaltender. They’ve had some buyer’s remorse, and Bobrovsky hasn’t panned out right. When they signed him, goaltending problems were the last thing on the mind of the Panthers’ front office.
It’s a reality and the Panthers really only need Bobrovsky to revert to Columbus form for the Panthers to be a huge threat in the playoffs. We’ve been waiting and waiting, though, and still waiting. With Chris Driedger injured, Bobrovsky has been the clear No. 1 in the crease. It has put more pressure on Bobrovsky to perform.
The Blackhawks head into tonight with a record of 22-22-5 and 49. I don’t think there are any surprises here with the Blackhawks. They looked like a .500 team going into the season. Chicago is coming off a 7-4 loss against the Lightning on Tuesday. Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen were hammered, with both goaltenders finishing with a save percentage below 0.80. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Blackhawks pick on April 29, 2021.
Florida Panthers vs. Chicago Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds:
Panthers vs. Blackhawks Prediction:
Sergei Bobrovsky is making a lot of money, but he hasn’t been following through and pulling his weight. Bobrovsky had a 2.58 GAA and 0.931 save percentage in his final season in Columbus in 2018-19. He had a career-high GAA of 2.06 and 0.931 save percentage in 2016-17. However, this form hasn’t been present in Sunrise for Bobrovsky. In his first year as a Panther, he posted a 3.23 GAA and 0.90 save percentage in 49 starts.
He’s shown small improvement this season, but the Panthers still need more out of him. Bobrovsky has a 2.94 GAA and 0.905 save percentage. Chris Driedger has been the better of the two, as he’s notched a 2.17 GAA and 0.923 save percentage in 22 starts, so Bobrovsky can’t put the blame on the blue liners.
Note that Driedger is not active and is OUT with a lower-body injury. That leaves Bobrovsky between the pipes against the Blackhawks tonight. Fortunately for the Panthers, their offence packs some power. They put the most shots on net per game at 34.6. The Panthers have netted 3.2 goals per game in the 2021 campaign. In their last ten games, they’ve scored 3.4 goals per game.
The Blackhawks have been getting throttled defensively with 3.6 goals against per game in their last ten outings. Overall, they’re 23rd in the NHL with 3.2 goals against per game, and 29th in shots against at 33 shots per game. Kevin Lankinen is expected to get the nod in the crease for the Hawks. He’s posted a 2.95 GAA and 0.91 save percentage and record of 16-13-4 in 2021. I like a 4-3 game to put this one OVER the total.