Home Ice Advantage Makes Blackhawks Our NHL Pick Over Pittsburgh

Bruce Webster

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 6:08 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016 6:08 PM GMT

The Pittsburgh Penguins meet the Chicago Blackhawks in a home-and-home series. Don't miss our betting preview for this matchup and get our top NHL picks.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Lines: +125/-135
Total: 5
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Free NHL Pick: Chicago
Best Line Offered: at Bet365

 

One of Wednesday's matchups is happenning tonight at the United Center the Pittsburgh Penguins (19-15-1-3 SU, 14-24 PL, 13-19-6 OU) and Chicago Blackhawks (23-13-4 SU, 16-24 PL, 14-19-7 OU) will square off in game two of their home-and-home series. Game one was played on Tuesday night, so both teams will be entering this game on no rest. The home team has taken five of the last six in the series. Let's review the NHL odds for this game.

 

Pittsburgh Is Finding Their Offense
The Pittsburgh Penguins have had many scoring problems this year, but under the guidance of new head coach Mike Sullivan, they seem to be waking up. The Pens have scored five goals in three of their last six games after accomplishing that feat just once in their previous 32 games.  A big reason for this is that Sidney Crosby is starting to produce. he has now scored five goals in his last five games, after putting up just six total goals in his previous 32 games. The Pens have been waiting for him to produce, after all he had scored 64 goals the last two years combined.

Getting Crosby going and having back Marc-Andre Fleury makes this team a rather dangerous one. Fleury was having a solid season in goal before missing time with a concussion. He is slated to get the start on Tuesday night, so tonight it should be Jeff Zatkoff getting the nod. Zatkoff comes in at just 3-5 with a 2.60 GAA on the year and this will be his first ever meeting with the Blackhawks. Pittsburgh checks in at 24th in the league in scoring, putting up just 2.4 gpg, while converting on 18.6% of their power play chances, which is 20th. On defense they are very solid, ranking 8th in goals allowed (2.4 gpg) and 6th in penalty kill (84.1%)

 

Kane & Crawford Are Keys To Chicago’s Success
The Chicago Blackhawks are the defending champs and if they should repeat it will be mainly due to the play of Corey Crawford and Patrick Kane. Let’s start in goal where Crawford is off his 6th shutout of the year in a 3-0 win over Ottawa on Sunday. Crawford had just seven total shutouts the least three year and the most he had in one year was four, which was back in 2010/11. Crawford is now 20-12 on the year with a 2.24 GAA. He is slated to start the game in Pittsburgh, so getting the nod tonight will be Scott Darling, who has struggled this year as he is 3-5 with a 2.79 GAA.

Patrick Kane an amazing points streak earlier in the year and has really been the engine that makes this offenses go. Kane comes in with 57 points on the year, which leads the league. Of those 57 points he has 23 goals, which is eight goals better than the number two player on the team Artem Anisimov, who has 15. Kane’s 23 goals are tied for 2nd in the league. The Blackhawks come in at 9th in the league in scoring, putting up 2.8 gpg and 3rd in power play conversions at 23.6%, while on defense they are 9th in goals allowed, giving up just 2.4 gpg and 11th in penalty kill at 81.4%. 

 

Trends for Pittsburgh:
1-6 in their last seven games playing on 0 days rest
2-5 in their last seven vs. a team with a winning record

 

Trends for Chicago:
110-48 in their last 158 home games
4-1 their last five at home in the series

 

Betting Analysis
I am expecting the Pens to take game one of this series, so I will look for the Blackhawks to get some revenge in a battle of backups who both have struggled this year. The Pens offense has started to play better, but may be a bit tired for this one and, while the Blackhawks may also have a tired offense, they still rate the edge at that end of the Ice, especially at home. This should be a good game with Chicago coming out on top in the end. Keep that in mind for your NHL picks.

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