NHL Picks: Bet Blackhawks To Extend Streak vs. Slumping Canadiens

Jay Pryce

Thursday, January 14, 2016 1:10 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 1:10 PM GMT

The slumping Canadiens host the streaking Blackhawks on Thursday night at the Centre Bell. Montreal hope to snap Chicago's eight-game win streak. who will be our NHL pick?

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NHL Pick: Chicago -104
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Chicago Blackhawks (28-13-4, 60 points)
Chicago, second in the Central Division, is riding an eight-game win streak into Montreal after besting the Predators 3-2 on Tuesday. The Blackhawks have scored three or more goals in each contest during this stretch with an average of 4.0 per game. They now sit just two points behind the Stars for the most in the Western Conference. 

Jonathan Toews, perhaps the best two-way center in the league, has five goals during the streak. More of an all-around playmaker and team leader, when he finds the net it's a bonus, and the Blackhawks usually win. When Toews nets one or more a game, they are 178-57 in his career. The All Star has six points (three goals, three assists) in six previous matchups versus the Canadiens.

Veteran netminder Corey Crawford will likely get the nod for coach Joel Quenneville. He's won six in a row, posting a .938 save percentage in the process. Crawford has had his troubles away from home, though, allowing a 3.13 goals against average. He's 3-0-2 in five career outings versus the Canadiens.

 

Montreal Canadiens (23-27-3, 49 points)
Montreal fired out the gates as the NHL’s hottest team, winning its first nine straight. Since reigning Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price went down with a lower-body injury in late November, the Habs are one of the coldest, limping to a 6-14 record. Bettors have dumped roughly 40 percent of their investment backing the team over the last 20 games. For what it’s worth, the UNDER is 0-7-2 in games played at home during this stretch against the NHL odds.

It’s not the defense, per say, that is underperforming. Goalies Dustin Tokarski and Mike Condon have played okay. It allowed 2.7 goals per game pre-injury and 2.8 afterwards. Rather the goals have dried up. Montreal went from averaging 2.8 per game to just 1.9 with Price out. Some of this is attributed to the Habs chasing games late, forced to pull out of their defensive shell and not control the puck. In 10 of the last 20 games, they have trailed headed into the third period. 

Condon is expected to man the pipes tonight, making it his fourth start in five games. He's done pretty well at Centre Bell, going 6-6-2 with a .904 save percentage.

LW Max Pacioretty leads the team with 17 goals, but has found the net just five times in the last 20 games. Montreal is 4-1 in these games as opposed to 2-13 when he fails to put one between the pipes. Since 2012, the team is 71-24 when Pacioretty scores a goal or more in a game. The seven-year pro has failed to find the net in six prior matchps against Chicago. 

 

Final Analysis
The Canadiens are lost without their star netminder. They desperately need his leadership, his confidence, his play. Not to mention, Montreal is just 4-9 against the Western Conference this season, and it is difficult envisioning  the team turning things around against the in-form, reigning Stanley Cup holders. The line opened at -120 in favor of the Blackhawks with early action dipping it to -108 at some shops. We'll jump on the number. Chicago -104 is our NHL pick tonight.

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