The Chicago Blackhawks have hit a bit of a snag after winning 12 straight games. Will the New York Rangers beat the NHL odds when they host the Hawks Wednesday night?
Free NHL Pick: UNDER 5 (+105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 16: 1-1 ATS (–0.85 units), 0-6 ML (–6.12 units), 0-0-2 Totals (0.00 units)
It's not easy to keep a streak going. The Chicago Blackhawks managed to win 12 games in a row between late December and mid-January; that's a franchise record for the Hawks, and they've been around since 1926. Impressive. However, the defending Stanley Cup champions have gone 5-5-1 since that epic streak. It's a hard-knock life.
We'd like to break our losing streak here at the home office, too. All six of our NHL picks against the moneyline have failed to cash in, including all five of the underdogs we had on our dance card. The Blackhawks will be barking this Wednesday night (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN) when they visit the New York Rangers in an Original Six showdown. What's a puckhead to do?
Lookin' Out for #1
Let's start by consulting the experts. Hockey-Reference thinks quite highly of both teams, but Chicago (+0.48 SRS) is pegged a notch above New York (+0.34 SRS) on the Simple Rating System. If we assign 0.30 goals for home-ice advantage, and 10 cents in juice for every tenth of a goal, we get a kayfabe moneyline of Rangers –116 at Madison Square Garden. If I did the math right.
Close enough for government work. As we go to press, New York is available between –118 and –125 on our NHL odds board. Is there a dash of profit margin with the underdogs? Let's investigate. Both teams are expected to have their No. 1 netminders between the pipes on Wednesday; according to Left Wing Lock, Henrik Lundqvist (.924 save percentage) is already confirmed for the Blueshirts, while Corey Crawford (.930 SV%) is considered probable for Chicago. Not much difference there.
We've got two notable injuries to deal with – one for each team. New York will be without LW Rick Nash (12 goals, 21 assists) for at least another few days, as he continues to recover from a bone bruise in his left leg. Chicago RW Marian Hossa (10 goals, 18 assists) is on the shelf for a couple of weeks after hurting his leg in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks (+122 away). Not too much difference there, either.
This might be a good spot to avoid the moneyline and look for other options. But the Rangers (26-30 ATS, +1.62 units) have only done slightly better than the Blackhawks (27-33 SU, –0.24 units) on the puck line, and there are mixed signals from both teams when it comes to the total. So we took a straw poll here at the ranch and went with the UNDER. It's 4-0-1 in the last five games between these two teams. Make it a small bet to reflect the small (if any) profit margin, and may the cylinder be with you.