By: Trent Pruitt
It’s been eleven days since the Blackhawks last took the ice. They’ll have the freshest legs in the league as they travel to my second home, Arizona, to take on the Coyotes this evening. Chicago is catching the Yotes at an opportune time as they’ve dropped four straight games.
Money Line: AZ -157, CHI +142
Spread: AZ -1.5 (+170), CHI +1.5 (-190)
Over/Under: 6 (O +105, U -115)
Puck Drop: 7:00 CST, Gila River Arena, Glendale, AZ
If you don’t recall, the Hawks had won five straight games before they lost to the Panthers on Coach Q Night before the break. Their inactivity has seen them drop from a tie for 4th back into a tie for 5th with the Jets (54 points). As for playoff contention, this is a crucial stretch as 10 of their next 12 opponents will be Western Conference foes. Currently, Chicago sits just four points out of the second Wild Card spot behind Arizona so they’ve done an excellent job getting back into striking distance. As a team, I must praise the defense and Penalty Kill Unit in particular – they’ve been sharp. The PK ranks 7th in the league, shutting down 82.8% of opposing man-advantages. I’d love to see the offense give some more production and for Dominik Kubalik to stay hot.
As for the Yotes, they’re coming off an OT loss to the Kings on Thursday night by a score of 3-2. They were in command of the Pacific for a while to start the season but without their netminder, Darcy Kuemper they have dropped off big time. Kuemper hasn’t played since December 19th against Minnesota where he sustained a lower body injury. My best guess is they’ll go with ex-Hawk, Antti Raanta to do the goaltending tonight. Raanta is 9-11-2 on the season with a GAA of 2.99 while stopping .911% of shots. As for offensive production, it’s been Nick Schmaltz leading the charge for Arizona. He has notched 38 points on 8 goals and 30 helpers. Arizona is a defense-first team, so it’s no surprise that they haven’t been successful without Kuemper. They still rank 7th in goals against on the year with 142.
Analysis & Prediction
I think there is a lot of value to be had on Blackhawks tonight as they look to make a playoff push entering the back half of the season. I will be taking the Hawks tonight for a 2-unit underdog play. Chicago is 12-9-3 away from the United Center while Arizona has gone 12-10-3 at home. Arizona is just 3-5-2 over their last 10 games while the Hawks have won 6 of their last 10. This will be a good matchup in the desert but ultimately I think the Hawks have the advantage with the way their offense has been picking it up and they’re even getting some success from the PP.
Trent’s Record on NHL Picks in ‘19-’20
Blackhawks Games: 12-9 (+1.07 Units). A $100 bettor is up $107.
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