Central Division Battle: Lock Blackhawks As Our NHL Pick vs. Stars

Dana Lane

Saturday, February 6, 2016 1:29 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 1:29 PM GMT

This is going to be the first huge match-up of the post All-Star break schedule. The Chicago Blackhawks are leading the Dallas Stars by three in the Central Division. Who will be our NHL pick?

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NHL Pick: Blackhawks +101
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

I usually trust my power rankings because it's been a reflection of how much I trust a team to bet them against the spread. That's why a team like the Kings who are probably one of the top five teams in the league are not in my top ten as far teams to bet because they are simply unreliable on the puck line. 

In this one we have the Stars ranked higher but it's hard to go against Stanley Cup pedigree in big situations.

What makes the Blackhawks so tough is their depth is incredible. We all know the Kanes, Toew's, and Corey Crawford's but Artemi Panarin is so good that only Alexander Ovechkin, Sindney Crosby, and Egveni Malkin have reached 50 career points faster than Panarin among active players. 
Hawks goaltender, Corey Crawford, has again reached 30 wins for a season. The only other  Blackhawk to achieve that was Tony Esposito who did it eight times. 

Watching them beat the Coyotes Thursday, I never felt like Chicago played threatened. They continuously come at you in waves and unless you have a gifted goaltender to outlast Chicago your chances are minimal. They are always in possession of the puck which leads to more scoring opportunities. Their +29 shot differential last night was the difference.

Dallas will be short handed as they recalled Radek Faksa form the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to replace Jason Spezza who was placed on injured reserve. The Spezza loss is big considering he was third in the team in goals (18),  fourth in points (40), and tied for first in game winning goals (5) 

Dallas beat Colorado, 4-3, Thursday. They clearly outplayed the Avalanche but they will have to be more physical and win more face offs to be as effective against Chicago. Head Coach, Lindy Ruff, said they dominated the entire game, which is true, but let's not lose site of the fact that the Stars are just 5-4-1 in their last ten, which isn't bad, but two of those wins came against Winnipeg and the others were against Edmonton, Colorado, and Calgary. Not exactly the gauntlet.    

Before Christmas, the Dallas Stars dealt Chicago a 4-0 loss while sending a message that are a team to be dealt with. The Blackhawks looked disinterested as they were being outshot 32-20. Dating back to January of last year the Stars have beaten Chicago three straight and have outscored the Hawks 14-3 including two shutouts. Dallas were underdogs in two of those three including a huge +220 winner. The Dallas' power play was 4-9 in those three meetings. I expect the Blackhawks to  have had this game circled for awhile. 

The five goals Chicago scored Thursday has some historical significance if you're backing Chicago. The Hawks are 55-26 the game after scoring five or more goals while Dallas has lost five of their last seven after a win. 

Chicago have beaten the Stars 11 of their last 14 meetings and are 7-2 in their last nine at Dallas. The NHL odds board show the Chicago as the underdog at +101. Take Blackhawks for your NHL picks

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