Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:00 PM EST.
8:05 PM EST. Regulation only. D-men Nikita Zaitsev and Morgan Rielly both remain out for the Maple Leafs, which is a massive problem for an already weak defensive team. While we love Mike Babcock and his staff, the Leafs are still too weak defensively to be considered a true contender. Frederik Andersen bailed out the Maple Leafs’ shortcomings often over the first three months but he’s been human lately and perhaps there is a bit of burnout happening here, as Andersen has played almost every game the past two seasons. The Leafs remain very dangerous but they are still getting far too much credit in this market while the Blackhawks stock has dropped dramatically over the past few games, which provides us with a great buy-low opportunity here.
Chicago has lost three in a row by scores of 2-0, 7-3 and 4-0. Prior to that, Chicago split a couple of 2-1 decisions by beating Winnipeg but losing to Minnesota. Thus, Chicago has scored a mere six goals in its last five games. Now the market will do what they always do, which is to buy and sell results while we’ll continue to buy and sell the ingredients. Fact is, Chicago is playing great hockey but all the analysts will tell you differently because they’re losing. Since December 1, the Blackhawks rank 1st in 5v5 Score and Venue Adjusted Corsi For %. In second and third respectively in that category are Boston and Tampa Bay. Chicago also ranks 7th in Corsi Against per 60 during 5v5 play. The other teams that are top 7 in both CF and CA are Dallas, Pittsburgh, Boston and TB. Overall the Blackhawks remain disciplined, as they rank 4th best in penalties taken and 3rd overall in penalty differential. The effort and performances are there for Chicago but the results are not and we now get to buy this strong outfit at bargain basement prices because of it. Win or lose, here, Chicago is the prudent choice and we can almost promise you that they’ll be digging down deep here and coming up with another spirited effort. Big underlay.
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CHICAGO -½ +152 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.04)