NHL Picks: Blackhawks vs. Avalanche

David Schwab

Thursday, March 7, 2013 8:31 PM GMT

The Chicago Blackhawks and the Colorado Avalanche will square off against one another this Friday night for the second time in three nights in the back end of a home-and-home series.

NHL Picks- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Colorado Avalanche

The game is slated to get underway 6 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network. Let's look at the NHL odds for this one.

Blackhawks Betting Overview

It took over 59 of the first 60 minutes in regulation, but the Blackhawks kept a couple of streaks alive this past Wednesday night with a 3-2 victory over Colorado as 208 home favorites. Danny Carcillo’s game winner with just 49 seconds left in the third period extended their current winning streak to 11 games and they have now earned at least one point in their first 24 games this season. Chicago is 21-0-3 overall and it has opened-up a 10-point lead over Anaheim for the top spot in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks are clearly the best team in the NHL because of their tremendous balance on both ends of the ice. They are ranked fourth in the NHL in scoring with 3.1 goals a game, while ranking first in goals allowed with a goals-against-average of just 1.8. The offensive attack could take a hit in this game if Marian Hossa and/or Patrick Sharp cannot go due to injuries, but Chicago still has the luxury of having two quality goaltenders in Corey Crawford (1.53 GAA) and Ray Emery (2.02 GAA). Emery stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced in Wednesday night’s game, so it could be Crawford’s turn to get the start this time around, although that has yet to be confirmed.

Avalanche Betting Overview

Colorado was in perfect position to end Chicago’s winning streak with a 2-1 lead after two periods of play, but like so many other times this season, it could not maintain the necessary intensity to win for a full 60 minutes. The Avalanche are now 8-10-4 on the year after losing its last three games, but they do return home for Game 2 of this series where they are 6-2-1.

In direct contrast to the Blackhawks, Colorado has struggled on both ends of the ice this season. It is ranked 24th in the league in scoring with 2.4 goals-per-game and allowing an average of 2.9 goals on defense. It is ranked second-to-last on the power play with a conversion rate of just 11.9 percent while sporting a less than stellar 77.4 percent kill rate against the man advantage. Semyon Varlamov is the team’s primary goaltender and should be between the pipes on Friday night. In 18 previous outings this season, he has a GAA of 2.80 and a .910 save percentage.

Blackhawks vs. Avalanche- NHL Betting Odds and Trends

The playing status of both Hossa and Sharp could have an impact on the closing money line, but look for Chicago to open as a 145 road favorite this time around with the Avalanche 135 home underdogs. The total should open at 5.5.

The Blackhawks are 20-8 in their last 28 games on the road and a perfect 5-0 in their last five games against the Northwest Division. The total has stayed “under” in eight of their last 10 road games.

The Avalanche are 6-13 in their last 19 games on one day’s rest and 3-7 in their last 10 games against the Central Division. The total has stayed under in six of their last nine games at home.

Chicago’s win raised its record to 3-3 in the last six meetings between the two and it is just 2-7 in its last nine road games against Colorado. The total has gone over in five of the last six meetings at the Pepsi Center.

[gameodds]7/220576/43/us[/gameodds]

Blackhawks vs. Avalanche- Free NHL Picks

Past trends in this series certainly favor the Avalanche on their home ice, but given how costly it has been going against Chicago this season, you have to defer to current form in this matchup even with a few injury concerns. The current injury situation could open the door for a play on the UNDER, but my free NHL pick for this contest is to keep riding the hot hand as the Blackhawks find a way to extend their winning streak to 12.

NHL Picks: Chicago 3  Colorado 1 (lines provided by BetOnline)

Year-to-Date NHL Record: 17-9-2