Blackhawks at Coyotes Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 2/7/2013
The Chicago Blackhawks are the only team that hasn’t yet suffered a regulation loss. With eight wins and two overtime losses they have a point in every game, and they are established in first place in their division as a result. They aren’t exactly making it easy on themselves, though. They have come from behind five times in wins and in both of their eventual losses. On Saturday they tied the game up in Calgary with just 2.3 seconds left before winning in the shootout. If the team could get their act together early in games they could be even more dangerous than they have been. They may not be winning easy, but they are beating some good teams — San Jose on Tuesday, the Kings, Red Wings and Stars among them. Now they look to extend their streak here against a Phoenix squad they have already beaten once this year — a 6-4 win in Phoenix on Jan. 20.
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Phoenix has started the season a respectable 4-2-1 at home. That’s particularly impressive when you consider the total absence of crowd support they have. Their average attendance barely breaks 11,000, and they have failed to reach even that recently. The NHL has run this team into the ground, and the fans are reacting with apathy. On top of that, when popular teams like the Blackhawks come into town a lot of snowbirds come out to cheer on their hometown teams, so Chicago will have as much crowd support in this one as the Coyotes are likely to.
This game is a rematch of the 2012 first-round playoff series that the Coyotes won in six games. The biggest storyline in that upset was that Marian Hossa was knocked out of action by a brutal hit from Raffi Torres. Torres was suspended for the first matchup this year, but he will be back in this one. That could have emotions fired up for the Blackhawks. It will be interesting to see if they can avoid letting it be too much of a distraction.
Blackhawks at Coyotes Betting storylines
Chicago has been absolutely brilliant with penalty killing this year — 37 kills in 39 tries. That’s good enough to lead the Western Conference, but the special team’s success is offset somewhat by the fact that the power play has failed to produce in the last 12 tries. For a team that can score as well as Chicago, that’s a real concern and sure to be a focus heading into this one.
Only San Jose has more goals (34) in the Western Conference than the 33 the Blackhawks have scored in 10 games. The offensive competence the Blackhawks are playing with — which is no fluke given their lineup — sets up the key matchup in this game. Phoenix is 3-0-1 on their current four-game homestand, and the big reason for that is that they have allowed just three goals over that time. Goalie Mike Smith has saved 38 of 39 shots faced in the last two games. He allowed all six goals the last time the teams met, so it remains to be seen if he can maintain his current success or if the Blackhawks will have his number again.
This season has created no shortage of scheduling quirks, and Chicago isn’t spared. This is their ninth road game this year and just their 11th game overall. They are 6-0-2 away from home, which makes their start even more impressive. It also means that the schedule will be back-loaded with home games, so that will only help the team later on. That comfort on the road, plus the less-than-hostile environment, give the Blackhawks an edge here.
Blackhawks at Coyotes NHL Odds and Betting Trends
Sportsbook.ag opened with the Blackhawks favored at -115, with Phoenix at -105. The total is sitting at 5, though the over is getting significant enough action that 5.5 could be possible before puck drop.
Chicago is 8-3-2 in their last 13 games in Phoenix and has won the last three. Phoenix is 4-1 in their last five against the Central Division but just 1-4 in their last five following a win. The road team has won the last six meetings in this series.
Blackhawks at Coyotes Picks and Betting Predictions
Chicago has not been playing their best hockey recently, and they are vulnerable. Their current success can’t last forever, and this is a tough spot. Phoenix is playing with loads of confidence and is defensively very solid. What really stands out when you watch them is how willingly the players will sacrifice their bodies to stop a puck. That’s good to see. Phoenix will be a home underdog and is an attractive one here. If Chicago falls behind early they could struggle to catch up. This is a different team than the one that Chicago beat before, and the result will be different as well.
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