Back Road Dog Blues As Your Winning NHL Pick vs. Blackhawks

Doug Upstone

Thursday, April 7, 2016 4:03 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 7, 2016 4:03 PM UTC

St. Louis at Chicago sets up as an intriguing contest, but will it play out because of present situation? The NHL odds favor Chicago because they are the home, but there is more to this puzzle.

The Blues are tied with Dallas for the most points in the Western Conference, but the Stars hold the tiebreaker, meaning St. Louis has to win two remaining contests and hope Dallas slips up once.

Chicago (47-33 SU) trails the St. Louis (48-32 SU) by four points but if they win this contest in regulation and season finale and the Blues lose both games in standard three period contest, they would be tied and the Hawks move up to second place and their division rivals to third.

Forgot to mention one more thing, if Dallas still wins the Central Division as expected, what will one of the first round matchups in the West be? You guessed it, these two squads.

How might any of this play out against the NHL odds, let's attempt to determine as best we can.


St. Louis Looks to Keep Grinding Away
Coach Ken Hitchcock said he's never seen or experienced what has happened injury-wise to St. Louis this season. The Blues from the opening day of the season have seen one injury after another and we are not talking about players from the third and fourth lines, this is key impact players St. Louis depends on night in and night out.

The latest two are captain David Backes and goaltender Jake Allen, who are done for the regular season and whose playoff availability is unknown at this time. Yet through it all, this team never felt sorry for itself, keep fighting and could miraculously still be a top seed.

The front office deserves much credit for having the available depth to still win in the league and Hitchcock building a team around defense and special team play.

Be it Allen of fellow goalie Brian Elliott, St. Louis is fourth in goal allowed at 2.4 a game and Elliott has been like a wall a presidential candidate has talked about with a 12-1-1 record, a puny 1.74 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and four shutouts.

On special teams, the Blues are 5th in power play percentage (22 percent) and 3rd in penalty kills at 84.9 percent. If you wonder how they would beat Chicago tonight, just gave you the formula.


Chicago Caught in the Middle Also
As the Blues have been dealing with injuries, so have the Blackhawks of late. Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa are game time decisions. Duncan Keith is still suspended and No.1 goalie Corey Crawford is tentatively scheduled to return on Saturday in Columbus, after missing 11 consecutive games.

Like St. Louis, Chicago has a lot to play for, but the question is it worth? The Hawks know they can win the Cup even if they are not in the most advantageous position, they finished third in the Central last season and are the defending champions. To risk further injury or rest a couple players might have a longer term benefit for a short term gain.

If Chicago is to win, they will need to contain the St. Louis defensemen, who like to get involved on the offensive end as playmakers like Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Chicago will try to do what few are capable of, getting these guys caught up ice and turn their collection of highly skilled goal-scorers loose.


What to Expect and Winner
These rivals have split four games, each winning at home and on the road and Chicago is a -130 home favorite with total of 5. As much as I like the Blackhawks at the United Center and their 26-14 SU record, if both teams have equal focus, In the past few weeks St. Louis has won at Dallas, San Jose and Washington and with their offense averaging 3.75 goals a game in winning seven of eight, from a value perspective, the Blues are choice.

Both teams just beat Arizona decidedly, but have reacted differently in each case. St. Louis is 6-0 in road games after a win by three goals or more, while the Hawks are 1-6 at home after a blowout win by four goals or more. For NHL picks, I'm on the visitor.

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Free NHL Pick: St. Louis -102
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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