NHL Picks: Ducks vs. Blackhawks

David Schwab

Friday, March 29, 2013 11:03 AM GMT

Friday, Mar. 29, 2013 11:03 AM GMT

The top two teams in the Western Conference will lace them up against one another this Friday night when the Anaheim Ducks face the Chicago Blackhawks. Where can bettors look to place their NHL picks in this spot?

This showdown is set to get underway 5:30 p.m. (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.

Let's breakdown this matchup from a betting standpoint, and decide where we should place our NHL picks tonight.

[gameodds]7/223305/43/us[/gameodds]

Ducks Overview

Anaheim had only lost consecutive games once this season but its current skid reached an unexpected four games with a 4-0 loss to San Jose this past Wednesday as a slight 100 road underdog. The Ducks are now 22-7-4 on the year and with a total of 48 points they have fallen five points behind Chicago for the top spot in the Western Conference. They are still a healthy 9-3-4 on the road this season and the total has gone OVER in four of their last six games.

Both ends of the ice have been responsible for this recent slide. Anaheim has managed to score a total of five goals in its last four games after averaging three goals a game this season. The defense has been torched for 16 goals in the four losses which is a far cry from its 2.5 goals-against-average this year. With Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth alternating starts over the past seven games, it would be Fasth’s turn in goal on Friday night if head coach Bruce Boudreau sticks with the plan.

Blackhawks Overview

Corey Crawford remains the primary starter in goal and while his 2.02 goals-against-average on the year is one of the best in the league, it has ballooned to 3.83 in his last six starts. Regardless of this performance, expect to see him between the pipes for this crucial showdown. Chicago snapped a rare two game skid at home with a 2-0 shutout of Calgary on Tuesday night as a 173 favorite to improve to 12-2-1 at the United Center this season.The Blackhawks have not been lighting it up lately as well with a 4-4 record in their last eight outings. They remain the second-highest scoring team in the league with 3.3 goals a game and have actually taken this up a notch with a 3.8 average over the eight-game span. The problem has been a schizophrenic defense that has allowed a total of four or more goals in four of the games while giving-up a combined total of just four goals in the other four contests.

Ducks vs. Blackhawks Betting Lines and Trends

The Ducks have been opened by NHL odds makers as 138 road underdogs on the money line with Chicago is listed as a 152 favorite at home. The total for this game has been set at 5.5.

The Ducks are just 2-5 in their last seven road games but they have won 10 of their last 13 games against teams from the Central Division. The total has stayed UNDER in their last four games on the road.

The Blackhawks are 9-3 in their last 12 games against the Pacific Division and 5-0 in their last five games playing on two days’ rest. The total has gone OVER in four of their last five games.

The home team in this series is 15-6 in the last 21 meetings. The total has stayed UNDER in eight of the last 10 meetings including the last six games played in Chicago. Anaheim is a perfect 2-0 this season with a 4-2 victory at home on March 20 and a 3-2 win in a shootout in its last trip to the United Center.

Ducks vs. Blackhawks Free NHL Pick

Neither team’s current form leaves much to be desired, but the Ducks complete meltdown on offense does not bode well against a team that is still scoring goals in bunches. Look for the Blackhawks to flip the script from the last time these two met with a two-goal win at home.

Chicago 4    Anaheim 2 (lines provided by BetOnline)

Year-to-Date NHL Record: 21-11-2
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