Home Ice Advantage Makes Blackhawks Our NHL Pick Over Canadiens

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, January 17, 2016 2:24 PM GMT

The Canadiens have dropped their last three while the Blackhawks are shooting for a franchise-tying 11th consecutive win. Let's review what the NHL odds makers are offering on this showdown.

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Free NHL Pick: Chicago -192
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Montreal Canadiens (23-22 SU, -3.2 units)
Despite outshooting the Blues last night 49-22 the Canadiens left St. Louis with a gut-wrenching 4-3 overtime loss. The Habs went 1-for-7 on the power play last night which reflects their woeful results recently having gone 5-for-60 in man-advantage situations over the last 19 games. Montreal's power play now ranks 20th in the league connecting just 17.8 percent of the time.

These are strange days indeed for the Canadiens who sprinted out of the gate winning their first nine games of the season but since losing superstar netminder Carey Price on November 25th the team has gone just 6-16 and fallen from their lofty perch atop the Eastern Conference. The team has now dropped to the middle of the pack with a record of 23-18-4 and is looking for a spark that will propel them into the upper echelons of the playoff seedings.

Despite their recent setbacks, losing four of their last five contests, Montreal still boasts the 9th ranked scoring attack averaging 2.8 goals per game and has been far more adept at killing penalties than converting on their power play efforts as they are ranked 4th in the league when down a man or more, extinguishing opposition power plays at 84.8 percent.

 

Chicago Blackhawks (30-17, +7.3 units)
The Blackhawks have been kryptonite to any team they oppose lately and are now seeking to match a franchise winning streak with their 11th consecutive victory if they defeat the Canadiens tonight. There are plenty of reasons why the Hawks have been this good, getting contributions from their stars all the way down to the last man on the bench. But no player has been better than standout goaltender Corey Crawford. The veteran Chicago netminder has a 25-10-2 record to go along with a 2.17 goals against average and a sparkling .929 save percentage.

Over the course of his last six starts Crawford has cranked it up even a notch from that with a 1.49 GAA, though he did get a breather in the Blackhawks' last game as Scott Darling took over the goaltending chores in Friday's 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Patrick Kane factored in all four goals with the first regular season hat trick of his career and added an assist as well. Kane leads the team in goals (28), assists (39) and points with 67 while Jonathan Toews, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov have 17,16 and 15 tallies respectively. The Blackhawks are ranked 4th in both goals scored and goals against while owning the 3rd best power play unit converting on 22.5 percent of their opportunities.

 

Betting Analysis
Though neither goalie is confirmed as of this early Sunday morning writing, it is more than fair to assume Corey Crawford will get the nod for Chicago after sitting in their last outing on Friday night. Crawford has been a brick wall when facing the Canadiens going 4-0-2 with a micro 1.32 goals against average in his six career starts against Montreal. That GAA is Crawford's lowest against any team in the league and if you have included the Blackhawks in your NHL picks when the Canadiens travel to Chicago then you have been rewarded handsomely as Chicago has won five consecutive home games against the Habs dating all the way back to October 18th of 2006.

The Blackhawks are gunning to tie a franchise record in consecutive wins. The Canadiens played a grinder last night in St. Louis and must now take on the hottest team in the league on their own ice. Chicago is 19-6 (+8.8 units) at home this season while Montreal is 11-12 (-1.3 units) on the road. Thursday night these teams met in Montreal and the Hawks came away with a 2-1 decision off the sparkling play of Corey Crawford. Crawford stopped 39 of 40 shots and has been virtually impenetrable during the Blackhawks winning streak. The Canadiens have an All-World goalie themselves, but unfortunately he has been sidelined since November 25th and won't be suiting up anytime soon. The NHL odds makers are making the Blackhawks big favorites in this one, but sometimes you have to lay the heavy lumber.