Canucks at Blackhawks Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 2/19/2013
Incredibly, the Blackhawks are 15 games into their season, and they have yet to lose a game in regulation. If they can take at least one point from this game then they will tie the NHL record for the best start to a season in league history. What makes their 12-0-3 start even more impressive is that 10 of the 15 games have been played on the road. Teams aren’t supposed to be good on the road, but Chicago obviously didn’t get that memo.
To add drama to this matchup, one of the three losses the Blackhawks have had beyond regulation this year has been at the hands of the Canucks in a shootout on Feb. 1. Combine that with the strong rivalry between these teams built from recent playoff meetings and the bad blood that has ensued, and you have the potential for a great game between two very good teams.
Canucks at Blackhawks Betting storylines
These two teams didn’t meet last year in the playoffs, but that was the first time after three seasons of playoff series. Vancouver was arguably the best regular season team for two years in a row in 2009 and 2010, but the Blackhawks knocked them out in the playoffs both years. In 2011 the Canucks finally vanquished their demons with a win of their own. Those battles are a sign of just how evenly matched these teams have been. In fact, they have each won five of their last 10 meetings, and each of the last three and five of the last seven have gone into overtime. Despite the strong start for the Blackhawks, this is a very tough test for them.
The Canucks have not yet made a real decision about who their starting goalie is. Typically, when a team has two goalies playing equally, they might as well have none. In this case, though, it is working surprisingly well — they are fourth in the league with just 2.1 goals against per game. Despite being the target of countless trade rumors, Roberto Luongo has been brilliant — a 4-0-3 record and a stingy 1.63 goals against average and .934 save percentage. Cory Schneider hasn’t been quite as sharp — 4-3, 2.62, .912 — and has missed out on the opportunity to lock down the starting job for good, but he’s certainly not a liability. The Blackhawks can score, but there is no real reason to worry about either guy from a handicapping perspective here — the difference in this game won’t be one starter compared to the other.
Chicago’s goaltending situation, on the other hand, isn’t particularly inspiring to me right now. Corey Crawford has been spectacular, but he has missed the last two games with an injury and is unlikely to be ready for this one, either. That exposes the Blackhawk’s biggest weakness — backup goalie Ray Emery. He’s a volatile guy who is very hard to trust, but he’s what the Hawks have right now. He has been fine in his last four games — allowing seven goals over that time, but he’s always just one second away from disaster, in my eyes. The Canucks have been somewhat disappointing offensively compared to their potential — top goal scorers Mason Raymond and Zach Kassian each have only five goals, and neither is the guy who should be leading the way for the team offensively — but they still sit 12th in the league in offense and are more than capable of testing Emery. His five games this year have all been against teams that were struggling to score at the time, so his success isn’t entirely proof of his strength so far.
Canucks at Blackhawks NHL Odds and Betting Trends
5Dimes has opened the Blackhawks as -130 favorites, with the Canucks at +110. The total is set at the standard 5.5.
The “over” has gone 3-1-1 in their last five games for the Canucks. The “under” is 7-0-1 in Chicago’s last eight games at home. The home team is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these teams.
Canucks at Blackhawks Picks and Betting Predictions
The streak can’t last forever, and this is where it is going to end. I don’t trust Emery, and, despite winning, the Blackhawks were shaky on Sunday night against the Kings. Vancouver has dropped two straight, but they have played as well as you can without winning, and they can be trusted here. At this price, Vancouver is the attractive pick here.
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