Avalanche vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick is 'Under as Powerful Defenses Collide in Chicago

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 1:31 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 1:31 PM UTC

The Colorado Avalanche defense is playing good recently, and the Chicago Blackhawks defense has been playing well all year. Will the trend continue as we make our NHL Picks?

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NHL Pick: Under 5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

In primetime NHL action on Tuesday night we have the 14-16-1 Colorado Avalanche and 17-10-4 Chicago Blackhawks. With this being in Chicago and holding the better record, it is no mystery why the moneyline has opened favoring them at -210 at Bovada. The O/U total has opened at 5 shading the over with +115 juice.

Early line movement indicates money is coming in on the Avalance, as their NHL odds have dropped from +171 to +161 within hours of the line opening at Pinnacle.


Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago is coming off of their second shutout in a row, following a 2-0 blanking of the Winnipeg Jets with a 4-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night. The game was 1-0 until midway through the 3rd period, when Chicago decided to stop playing with their prey and scored 3 goals in the final minutes. The third line of the Blackhawks logged significant minutes in the game, after a recent shuffling of personnel by head coach, Joel Quenneville. Joel Quenneville has the name of a Canadian bro, brah.

The national narrative is surrounding Chicago superstar and right winger, Patrick Kane, who has a streak of 26 games while recording a point. Kane’s streak is the longest since the 1992-93 season. Kane is on pace for his highest point output in his career as compared to his 88-point output in 82 games in 2009-10. Kane has 46 points already in 31 games this season.


Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are coming off of a 3-1 win against the St. Louis Blues that featured some excellent play by Avalanche goalie, Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov had a season high 42 saves on Sunday night, one night after getting the win in Nashville on Saturday. His only goal allowed was on a power play in the 3rd period against Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Avalanche have had quite a run of road games lately, with 17 of their last 24 contests coming away from home ice. They’ve had some success there, going 10-9 away versus going 4-7-1 on home ice. They’ll face a stiff challenge on the road in Chicago as they are 1st in the NHL in defense at home, only giving up 1.6 goals per game. Actually, Chicago has the best defense in goals allowed period, with 2.3 goals allowed per game wherever they play. Chicago’s home special teams is also tops in the league, with a 90.2% penalty kill rate.

Recent head-to-head form in this matchup favors the Avalanche, who have won the last three in this series. Colorado has also won the last four games played in Chicago. Overall, Colorado is 7-3 SU in the last ten games between these two teams, with the O/U going 4-4-2.


Final Analysis
In this matchup I like the recent defensive play of each team and am heavily leaning towards a play on the Under of 5 goals. With the Avalanche taking each of the last three games in Chicago, the Blackhawks look to be a little bit of a false favorite as well. However, with each of the last three games going under 5 goals between these two teams I’ll go with the safer trend. Also, getting +115 on the Under adds a little bit of extra value. I’m taking under 5 goals in what should be a tight low-scoring matchup between these two teams as my NHL pick.

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