NHL Picks: Lock Blackhawks Puckline As Coyotes Road Woes Continue

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 2:57 PM GMT

The Blackhawks look to make its clean sweep against the Coyotes this season, the third and final matchup between the two. Will we get another barn burner tonight? Maybe. NHL Pick and anlysis here.

Arizona Coyotes (35-37-7, 77pts)
Arizona melted in last night's contest against the Blues, allowing five unanswered goals in the final two periods to fall 5-2 in St. Louis. Perhaps the grind of the NHL's 82-game regular season is taking its toll on the young Coyotes. They've lost three of their last four and were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in a 4-1 loss to the Stars last Thursday.

Over the last two months, the Coyotes are awful outside of Gila River Arena. They are 2-15 SU during this time, scoring 1.7 goals to 3.4 allowed. Their only two victories came against the equally bad Flames and Oilers, each sporting a win percentage of less than 42 percent entering the contest. Against foes boasting a 43 percent win rate or better, they are 5-18 on the season, losing by an average margin of 1.9 goals.

Arizona rookies lead the NHL odds boards with 50 goals and 132 points. A pair of 20-year-old wingers, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, lead the charge. With seven players listed on the injury report, they've been asked to do a lot recently. They've responded well, posting 7 points a piece in their last 10 games, but both average a half point or less in road tilts this season

Louis Domingue will likely man the pipes, after Mike Smith started the last three games, including last night. The rookie netminder, who started much of the midseason with Smith hurt, had issues against the Blackhawks in two meetings earlier this year, going winless in both efforts with a 4.33 GAA and .871 SV%. Arizona is just 3-7 in Domingue's last 10 starts.

On special teams, the Coyotes penalty kill has been atrocious of late, going 10 for 31 over its last eight games.

 

Chicago Blackhawks (46-26-7, 99 pts)
Following an ugly stretch of games in March where the Blackhawks lost seven of nine contests, they appear to be righting the ship headed into the postseason. They've won four of their last five games, lighting the lamp for 3.8 goals per contest. They trail the Stars and Blues by six points in the Central Division, on the outside looking in for home-ice advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks defense has to be a concern for fans. Although starting goalie Corey Crawford has been out since mid March because of an upper-body injury, and backline stalwart Duncan Kieth missed the last two games from suspension, the team's 3.1 goals allowed rate (including shootout goals) since March 1 is alarming. They'll have to sure things up quickly if they hope to hoist the Stanley Cup for the third time in four years. Seven of their last eight losses, in fact, came against teams scoring 2.6 goals or more per game on the season. Arizona enters with a 2.58 mark.

Scott Darling will get a chance to woo Blackhawks fans tonight in his 10th straight start. He was peppered for 46 shots by the Bruins on Sunday, letting four slip by. But Chicago has won four of his last five, and he's managed a .927 SV% in eight home starts this year. This will be his first start ever against Arizona.

Chicago will likely be without Marian Hossa, after he left the Bruins game with a lower-body injury last time out and failed to return.

 

Final Analysis
Its tough to find much value in this contest. The Coyotes haven't scored 3 goals or more on the road since January 4, a span of 17 games. In order for them to win, they'll need Domingue to stand on his head, and the line is certainly too steep to back the Blackhawks straight up. Chicago has been scoring in bunches, 11 goals in its last two games, but have been letting them in at an unhealthy rate as well. The UNDER 5.5 is intriguing, but we'll take our chances on the Blackhawks puckline -1.5 at plus-odds as our NHL picks.

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Free NHL Pick:  Blackhawks -1-5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle