Now that’s exactly how we wanted to get this month of February started.
I had the Flames on the moneyline at -118 over the Jets, but it looked like an unlucky season was about to continue when Mark Scheifele scored with 1:50 remaining to erase a 3-2 Flames lead and send the game into overtime.
The extra frame was a scoreless one, but both Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan scored in the shootout, send Calgary to its second straight win and moneyline backers to a one-unit profit.
Let’s keep going and get hot as we take a look at the Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks from Chicago!
- Season Record: 9-15
- Units: -7.04
Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds
- Hurricanes (-161)
- Blackhawks (+145)
- Hurricanes -1.5 (+150)
- Blackhawks +1.5 (-170)
- Over 5.5 (-110)
- Under 5.5 (+108)
Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick Breakdown
It’s certainly been an interesting story for this Hurricanes offense in the early going.
They rank 18th in overall offense while averaging 2.83 goals per game and their 26.9% power play clip sits 11th in the early going. Remember, they’ve played just six games due to some earlier postponements.
However, the advanced metrics reveal something you never see.
At 5v5 this season, the Hurricanes rank fourth in scoring chances for/60 and fifth in high-danger chances for/60. Already, we can glean that they have probably been unlucky in terms of their 5v5 offense.
However, they also rank first in terms of expected goals for/60, but last in actual goals for/60 at 5v5. Their 1.32 goals/60 at 5v5 this season sits way under their 2.70 expected mark. A 29th-ranked high-danger shooting rate and last-ranked overall 5v5 shooting rate is to blame, but it’s certainly interesting to see a team with such a wide gap in actual production and expected production.
For good measure, the Hurricanes also rank second with 33.2 shots per game this season and just fired 40 on the defensively-stout Dallas Stars their last time out.
The Hurricanes have some key bodies on the protocol list at the moment, but head coach Ron Brind’Amour said he hopes to get top-line winger Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele and Jordan Martinook for this one tonight. At the time of this writing nothing has been confirmed, but that’s a good indication that they should return in this one, bolstering a forward group with some of the best advanced metrics in the NHL.
Despite battling poor fortunes of offense, the Hurricanes are 5-1-0 based largely on a defense that will enter this one ranked first with just 1.67 goals per game on the season. Additionally, they rank second on the penalty kill at 91.3% for the season.
That said, in fairness, the advanced numbers don’t add up to the league’s best defense. At 5v5, they rank 23rd in scoring chances against/60 and high-danger chances against/60 as well as 17th in expected goals against/60. their 1.53 goals against/60 sits well under their 2.11 expected mark.
Certainly, the penalty killing is doing their part to prop up the overall defensive figure, but this is also a Hurricanes team that sits second in the league with just 23.3 shots against per game on the season. Only the Bruins have been better, and just one tick better at 23.2.
Like with the forward group, the defense corps could be boosted by a return from the protocol list in the form of Jacob Slavin. Arguably the team’s No. 1 blueliner, Slavin hasn’t seen game action since January 18 and has played just three games this season, but the shot-blocking machine should be in line to return for this one.
The ‘Canes have allowed just four goals against over their last three games and just six against over their last four, holding opponents to two goals or less in three of their last four. They’ve also killed penalties at a 92.9% rate over their last three games, cooling off a white-hot Stars man advantage and stifling a potent Lightning group in the process.
Netminder Petr Mrazek left Sunday’s game early with an upper-body injury, and from the sounds of it he could miss significant time with surgery on the table at this point.
Therefore, James Reimer is the latest netminder set for an extremely busy schedule for the foreseeable future given the Hurricanes’ schedule will get even more condensed given the early-season postponements.
Reimer has been good in his three appearances, posting a 1.99 GAA and .918 Sv% while going a clean 3-0-0 along the way. He’s surrendered just six goals in those three contests, but also faced just 73 shots, or 24.3 per game.
The 32-year-old veteran is coming off a solid 2.66 GAA And .914 Sv% from last season in 25 appearances while sharing the crease with Mrazek. He went 10-4-0 on the road last season and turned aside 31 of 33 Predators shots (.939 Sv%) in his lone road start this season, a 4-2 Hurricanes win.
We knew the Blackhawks would scuffle on offense this season as soon as both Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander were ruled out for the season in addition to Jonathan Toews’ undisclosed illness keeping him out indefinitely at the moment.
Like the Hurricanes, however, the Blackhawks have key bodies on the protocol list, including sniper Alex DeBrincat, another critical absence for a player that was to be leaned on heavily in his third NHL season.
The offense found some legs in a two-game set with the Red Wings, scoring 10 goals in that time, but has scored just 1.75 goals per game over their last four and have averaged just 2.00 goals per game in their eight games outside of that series with the lowly Wings.
Overall, the Blackhawks sit 22nd with 2.60 goals per game on the season while their power play sits fifth at 33.3%. That power play is just 1 for 9 over its last three games (11.1%) after scorching-hot start to the season.
At 5v5, the Blackhawks rank 17th in scoring chances/60, 20th in high-danger chances/60 and 19th in expected goals/60. Like Carolina, they too have endured some poor puck luck with their high-danger shooting rate at 5v5 sitting 30th, as does their overall 5v5 shooting rate, better than only these Hurricanes.
It would appear we have a couple of offenses in for some improved fortunes moving forward, but personnel-wise it’s still not a pretty picture for these ‘Hawks.
The main concern for this team was always going to be their defense, and it’s been an issue so far.
They’ve held tough in ranking in a share of 18th with 3.00 goals against per game on the season and their penalty kill has been so-so at 78.4%.
At 5v5, however, the Blackhawks rank 27th in scoring chances against/60, 18th in high-danger chances against/60 and 22nd in expected goals against/60. Their 2.40 goals against/60 is more or less in line with their 2.23 expected mark, so they appear deserving of their 5v5 defense.
Still, they’re not only struggling to prevent scoring opportunities, but also shots in general as they sit 29th while allowing 33.5 shots per game this season. Remember, the Blackhawks also struggled in the shots department last season, finishing dead last while allowing 35.1 shots per game a season ago.
Nonetheless, the results of late have been excellent. They allowed just three goals in a two-game series with the Blue Jackets and also held the Predators to just three regulation goals in their previous two-game set. Since allowing 20 goals across their first four games, the Blackhawks have allowed just 1.83 goals per game since, although the competition hasn’t been stiff against the Jackets (offense ranked 28th), Predators (27th) and Red Wings (30th).
The defense has improved a little bit, but much of the improvement on the back end stems from the emergence of 25-year-old goaltender Kevin Lankinen, seemingly out of nowhere.
After Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia struggled early, Lankinen has stepped in and worked to a 1.97 GAA and .937 Sv% over his first six NHL starts.
With the Blackhawks allowing shots by the bushel, however, you wonder how much longer that type of success can be sustained.
After all, Lankinen posted a 3.03 GAA and .909 Sv% in 21 AHL contests last season, and even appeared in six games in the ECHL as recently as the 2018-19 campaign, posting a subpar 3.18 GAA and .893 Sv% in that time.
The undrafted Finn has certainly been a major reason for the team’s defensive turnaround, but there’s little doubt regression is on the horizon sooner than later.
Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick
This is one I’m not hesitating on as I like the Hurricanes to win this one in regulation time, and I’m taking the 3-way moneyline at -115 odds.
There’s absolutely no doubt that the Hurricanes are far superior in terms of puck possession and defense. Their defense corps can go up against any other group in the NHL and the ‘Canes are once again posting excellent possession numbers while the Blackhawks are not.
If the Hurricanes are fortunate enough to get those bodies back from the protocol list, it’s a major boost to all of their offense, defense and special teams. Teravainen is one of their best forwards and Slavin is an all-round beast on that blueline.
In this matchup we have the No. 2 shot-on-goal team against the league’s 29th-ranked shots against defense. The Blackhawks are 16th in shots per game, but the ‘Canes just don’t allow many shots at all. They held the Stars to 11 shots two games back, the second time in six games they held an opponent to 14 or fewer shots in a game this season.
I could see the ‘Canes peppering Lankinen in this one while playing their usual stout defense.
As a result, there’s little direction to go but the Hurricanes on either the puckline or 3-way moneyline, and I’ll take the latter at solid odds.