Who would have figured that a mid-November matchup
between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks would actually be a battle
of division leaders?
The Blackhawks were expected to be good but nobody
envisioned the Oilers being among the best teams in the league after finishing
dead-last in the NHL standings a season ago. So much for the myth
that a last-place team can’t turn things around quickly in the NHL.
But both teams come into this game at different ends of
the spectrum as the Oilers have lost two straight to elite teams while the
Blackhawks have won two straight.
The Oilers are in a bit of a tough spot here as this will
be the sixth and final game of their current road trip. It’s their third game
in four nights – all on the road – and fourth in sixth, and that could lead to
them being a bit worn down.
Sunday, November 13th
NHL Odds: Blackhawks -165
The Edmonton Oilers can win because…
They’ve been surprising teams all season long. The Oilers
have compiled a 9-5-2 record and have been paying off as a handsome dog
regularly. Most recently, they were a +120 dog in Montreal and won, +155 in Los
Angeles, EVEN at St. Louis, +155 in Colorado and +145 in Washington. All of
those games resulted in wins for the Oilers.
While their young core of forwards has played well on
offense, it’s in fact been their steady goaltending that’s given them plenty of
chances to win. Veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is 7-1-2 on the season with a
1.18 GAA and a .957 save percentage. For his career against Chicago, he’s
14-8-1 with a 2.38 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
On offense, the Oilers have earned good production from
their young stars like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (13 points), Jordan Eberle (11
points) and Taylor Hall (10 points), but it’s in fact been veteran Ryan Smyth
that has led the way (nine goals, 16 points).
If the Oilers get another complete team effort, they
might be able to spring the upset in this spot.
The Chicago Blackhawks can win because…
The show is over for Edmonton. It’s been a real cute
start, everything has been rosy as they’ve surprised some teams and proven that
they aren’t the worst team in the league anymore, but they are clearly slowing
The Oilers have lost three of their last four games and
they’ve been outscored 13-5 in the losses. Scoring has become a bit of an issue
as the Oilers don’t have much balance. Smyth and Nugent-Hopkins have combined
for 16 goals so far this season but the rest of the forwards only have 12. It’s
not helping matters that defenseman Ryan Whitney is out until mid-December.
The Blackhawks are rolling right now as they have won two
straight and have won four of their last five at home. Their weapons are
heating up as Marian Hossa has nine points in his last seven games, Patrick
Sharp is coming off a three-point game and defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent
Seabrook appear to have found their offensive touch.
While the Oilers are limited to a couple of weapons, the
Blackhawks are fully loaded and will come at Edmonton with every line. That’s
going to be a problem for the Oilers, whose defense has gone south of late.
Outlook & NHL betting prediction:
If Devan Dubnyk is in net for the Oilers – he’s lost four
of his last six starts – then you can bet the Blackhawks and not even worry
about it. If it’s Khabibulin, then you can still bet the Blackhawks, as they’ll
likely take the game in a closer contest.
This is a bad spot for Edmonton. It’s their final game of
a six-game road trip and they’ve gone cold while losing three of their last
four. They’ve also been badly outplayed in the last two games, losing by three
goals each time to Detroit and Boston.
The Blackhawks are 6-1-2 on the year at home and will
take the opportunity to show the young Oilers who’s the boss.
NHL Picks: Blackhawks