NHL Picks: Blackhawks vs. Rangers +105

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, February 27, 2014 2:05 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 2:05 PM GMT

The Rangers host the Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden in downtown Manhattan with the opening puck drop slated for 7:05 PM ET. Take a look at our handicappers top NHL picks for this match-up.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. New York Rangers

According to NHL betting odds the Blackhawks are a -125 money line road favorite and the posted total is 5.5. These teams have seen 7 of their last 10 meetings go under the total. The Rangers are currently 2nd in the Atlantic Division and 6th overall in the Eastern Conference. Chicago is tied for 1st in the Central Division and is 2nd overall in the Western Conference. This will be both teams first game following the Olympic break.

Getting Comfortable at Home

The Rangers have been one of the top road teams in the NHL this season going a stellar 18-10 in that role. However, at home has been a different story, and it’s an issue that needs to be resolved as we they head down the stretch of the regular season. Going into today’s game the Rangers have gone a disappointing 14-17 versus the money line on home ice this season. On a more positive note the “Blue Shirts” won 5 of their last 6-games prior to the Olympic break. They’ve also buckled down defensively allowing 2-goals or less in 12 of their last 15-games, and just 4 of those 15-games went over the total. Henrik Lundquist has started 16 of the last 19-games in goal for the Rangers and has been magnificent. Lundquist has gone 9-3 versus the money line in his last 12 starts while allowing just a combined 19-golas in the process.

Heart of a Champion

The Blackhawks have taken every team’s best shot this season, which comes with the territory as a result of being the defending Stanley Cup champion. Through it all they’ve not only held their own, but have risen to the occasion, and played at an extremely high level. The good news is that the Hawks have lost just 11 of their first 60-games during regulation time. If the Hawks have shown a flaw this season it’s the fact that they’ve lost 14-games in overtime, including 8 of those 14 coming by way of the shootout. The Hawks are hoping they return from the break rejuvenated after going 6-10 versus the money line in their last 16-games. In their defense, 6 of those 10 losses came after regulation time was completed. The Hawks are just 4-8 versus the money line in their last 12 road games, and they’ve gone under the total 12 of their last 19-games overall.

Final Analysis

In all likelihood we’ll see backup Cameron Talbot in goal for the Rangers. The Rangers would like to rest Henrik Lundquist until Saturday’s game at Philadelphia. Lundquist started all 7-games for Sweden in the recent Olympic tournament on the way to earning a silver medal. Talbot has been terrific in limited opportunities this season going 10-5 in 15 starts with a 1.79 GAA, a brilliant .935 save percentage, and has earned 2 shutouts.

The Blackhawks had 10 players that participated in the Olympics, including 7 of the 10 that played for Canada, Sweden, or the United States who all played the maximum 7-games in 12-days. With the extensive travel, and then having to play their first game on the road, it would be hard to imagine Chicago being razor sharp tonight either physically or mentally.

Free Pick: Rangers +105 over the Blackhawks

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