A depleted Chicago take a trip to the Capital where they face a heavy-hitting Washington in what could well be the game of the week.

Two in-form teams meet up and face off, and we should be in for a cracking NHL Hockey match, with ample thrills to get your gambling pulses racing, and plenty of betting picks.

Chicago BlackhawksOn Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks lost a hard fought game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, when they went out 4-3 in shootout as the Lightning ended their unwelcome four game winless slide.  It's a huge win," Lightning’s Martin St. Louis said. "We've been playing pretty good hockey, we just haven't gotten the results."

The second biggest story from Wednesday’s match was the injury sustained by Blackhawk forward Dave Bolland, elbowed in the head by Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina.  Bolland left the ice in the first period and is now doubtful for Sunday's game against the Capitals. 

No penalty was awarded on the night but Kubina has now been suspended for three games by the league. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was very angry with the events on the ice, "We didn't get any benefit out of it. We lose a player; we don't get a power play off of it. It was a dangerous hit. I wasn't happy with the hit at all."

The Washington Capitals have been having a season of two (vastly different) halves.  They lost eight consecutive games in December, but are now enjoying a seven-game winning streak thanks in part to Alex Ovechkin‘s resurgence.  Similarly, the Blackhawks didn’t start the season looking like Champions but their recent run of 9-2-1 over 12 games has silenced many of their naysayers.

A good run doesn’t necessarily mean a successful season; Chicago may well be in fourth place in the Western Conference, but only three points separates them from ninth-place Nashville Predators.  On the other hand, Washington’s playoff status in the Eastern Conference looks pretty secure.  The Capitals also have a slight lead over Tampa Bay in the battle for the top spot of the Southeast Division. Both the Blackhawks and the Capitals have everything to play for, making this game a great one for fans and neutrals alike.

My own NHL Free pick for this match is the Caps.  They seem to have the more momentum, having won an impressive seven games on the bounce - their latest victory being against Carolina on Friday, when they came from behind in the first period to take the game 2-1.  

At 1-0 down, Capitals’ leader Alex Ovechkin scored his 28th goal of the season just 47 seconds into the final frame, then Matt Hendricks made it 2-1 in the third, securing his team’s win.   At the back, 21 year-old rookie goalie Braden Holtby stood strong and proud all night for the Caps stopping 40 of 41 Hurricane’s shots.

Prediction: Washington win 3-2.