The Chicago Blackhawks may have lost two of their first three games of 2014, but the team remains the favorite to win this season’s Stanley Cup title. Chicago dropped a game to the streaking New York Islanders last week and was bested during shootouts by San Jose Sharks on Sunday. However, the Blackhawks still sit atop the Central Division and are probably the most talented team in the league. Chicago is +260 favorite to win the Western Conference and a +550 title favorite, and at this point in the season the team is simply fine-tuning for the playoffs.
Free $60 in Member NHL Picks No Obligation Click Here
The New York Rangers have a four-game homestand coming up after Wednesday’s matchup against the Blackhawks. The Rangers are currently in the middle of a tight race for the final playoff spots in the East and are only a point away from being the eighth seed. If New York can take advantage of its upcoming homestand, the team might position itself to move up the standings during the second half of the season. Let’s take a closer look at the Rangers versus Blackhawks matchup with predictions and analysis.
Rangers at Blackhawks Betting Story Lines
Chicago is once again the team to beat in the West. The squad is ranked first in goals scored with 3.6 per game, 13th in goals allowed with 2.6 per game and third in power-play percentage. The Blackhawks have four players with over 40 points, and they are being led by Patrick Kane with 54 points—23 goals and 31 assists.
Chicago is coming off a shootout loss to the Sharks on Sunday where the team allowed a whopping 42 shots on goal. Goaltender Corey Crawford played relatively well and allowed only two goals on all those shots. The Blackhawks will play five of their next six games inside of the United Center where they have a 15-2-6 record.
New York has is coming off a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, but the team has won three of its last five and five of its last eight games. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has continued to struggle in front of the net, allowing 16 goals in his last five starts. The goalie did save 36 shots against the Blue Jackets, but he remains an inconsistent and sometimes-unreliable option in front of the net.
The Rangers are currently ranked 24th in the NHL in goals per game with 2.4, 15th in goals allowed with 2.7 and eighth in power-play percentage. The team has only one 30-point scorer on the roster, Mats Zuccarello, who has exactly 30 points on the year. New York will host the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers after facing the Blackhawks on Wednesday.
Rangers at Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
Chicago opened as a -205 moneyline favorite over the +186 underdog Rangers at BetOnline. The total was set at 5.5 goals, with the “under” being favored at -121. Chicago is 6-1 over its last seven games against the Metropolitan Division and 37-16 over its last 53 Wednesday games. However, the team is only 1-4 during its last five matchups played on two days of rest.
New York is 7-1 over its last eight Wednesday games and 11-4 over its last 15 road games. The team is 5-2 over its last seven games against the Western Conference but only 3-7 when playing on one day of rest. Head-to-head, the Rangers are only 1-4-1 in the last six meetings in Chicago, while the home team is 6-2 in the last eight games.
Free NHL Picks: Rangers at Blackhawks Predictions
Chicago is a big favorite over the Rangers heading into Wednesday’s matchup. The team already lost a disappointing game against another New York team last week and will be more than ready to make up for it against the Rangers. Teams with as much talent as the Blackhawks can get listless throughout the long grind of the NHL season and sometimes need a wake-up call to get back on track. Chicago received its by losing two out of the last three games and will be ready to start piling up wins during the second half of the season. Take the Blackhawks on the moneyline.
Want free NHL betting picks? Doc’s Sports is offering $60 worth of picks – any handicapper from Doc’s Sports expert stable of NHL hockey experts – and this offer contains no hidden fees and no credit card is required. Just sign up for a free account and start using your free $60 credit today! Also, for a limited time get three hockey handicappers for the price of one! Click here for our 3-for-1 NHL picks offer.
Read more articles by George Monroy