Before placing your NHL pick today, understand that the St. Louis Blues (103 points) and Chicago Blackhawks (102 points) both clinched a playoff berth in their last games. Now it's just a matter of positioning.
Another Big Offensive Outburst For the Blues?
According to YouWager Sportsbook, the Blackhawks are a -160 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5 goals. Maybe odds makers should re-assess the total, despite the Blackhawks dominance on defense as St. Louis is coming off a 7-5 win over the Dallas Stars. I don't think we'll see that here, but can the Blackhawks keep the Blues in check will be the big question?
Jake Allen Gets the Nod
As you know, we always look to confirm the starting goalies before each and every game and Jake Allen is confirmed as being in net for the Blues. No word for Corey Crawford as of yet. This is a big game and I'm expecting to see Crawford in goal at home for the Blackhawks.
We kind of expected the switch of goalies after the last game for St. Louis and Allen gives the Blues a great chance to be competitive. Thus far this season, Allen is 20-6-4 with a 2.47 GAA.
It is a luxury to have an offense like the one that St. Louis possesses and Allen didn't face a ton of shots in his last 2 games, but he still won both games. That said, his only meeting against Chicago this season was a loss. WIll Allen be up to a serious challenge in "Chi-Town?"
As stated in my previous write-up, Chicago would get the win and a big reason for that would be Corey Crawford. Crawford is coming off of a monster game in which he stopped 35 out of 36 shots in a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. In his last 2 games, Crawford has stopped 66 out of 70 shots. It's possible that he could be rested tonight, but I highly doubt it. Chicago seems to have no problem sending him out there because he gives them the best possible chance to win .
Injury Plagued Blues
Jaden Schwartz is coming off of a hat trick against Dallas to add to his 28 goals and 33 assists on the season. This is the 2nd consecutive game in which Schwartz has scored a goal. Schwartz is a good plus/minus guy (+15) and I expect him to carry over to this game.
The big question is if leading scorer, Vladimir Tarasenko, will be ready to play .Tarasenko leads the Blues with 36 goals and 35 assists on the season and hasn't played since March 30th. St. Louis managed to play well without him, but of course, you want your big guns ready to go. Another big gun is Alexander Steen and we're not sure if he'll be playing tonight with a lower body issue. There are a lot of questions and Chicago is a team that will take advantage of the NHL odds underdog team being short-handed.
Chicago is coming off of a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. This isn't saying much as the Sabres are a whipping dummy of most teams in the NHL.
Jonathan Toews continues to be on a tear as of late as he added 2 more goals to his team leading 28 goals. For the season, Toews has 28 goals and 38 assists. In his last 5 games, he has 5 goals and 1 assist. Toews has 44 points in 39 games at home and is a +31. The guy is a flatout beast and I;m willing to lay my NHL pick expecting him to be a major factor as the Blackhawks slip past the Blues tonight at home.
NHL Pick- Chicago -137 at 5 Dimes