Date/Time: January 22nd, 8:00 p.m. ET
Television: NBC Sports Network
Moneyline: Chicago -140
For the first time since the Western Conference Finals last season, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings are set to battle it out in NHL betting action on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks have at least kept up their end of the bargain after divisional realignment. Granted, they probably ended up in an easier division now than where they were last season, but still, the top end of the competition is still quite good with the St. Louis Blues right on their backside for the Central Division lead. We’re a bit worried about the fact that this team hasn’t been quite as dominating as it was at times last season when it won the Stanley Cup, but all of the pieces are definitely in place for something special again in 2013-14. It’s a healthy team for the moment, and it’s a team which has four of the best players in the game. The combination of the top seven scorers on this team, all of whom have at least 33 points, have missed a grand total of five games, all of which were missed by RW Marian Hossa. The Blackhawks were struggling at the start of the calendar year, but wins over the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks at home were huge. Things are definitely looking up for one of the best teams in the game.
The Red Wings, on the other hand, look like an old and decrepit team. G Jimmy Howard has a lower body injury and is threatening to miss some serious time for the second time this season. C Pavel Datsyuk remains on IR with a groin injury. RW Franzen hasn’t played since December 15th with a concussion. RW Daniel Alfredsson has missed five straight games with a bad back. In fact, there are only two players who have been in the lineup for all 49 games this season, a far cry from what we have seen out of the Blackhawks and their younger stars. Detroit just hasn’t retooled with younger players, and as a result, the only healthy body on the team with more than 30 points this year is LW Henrik Zetterberg, and he is only one of the two men with more than 20 points on the team which is healthy, the other being D Niklas Kronwall. Now add in the fact that both Howard and G Jonas Gustavsson are dealing with injuries, and what might be left is one of the worst teams in the game being led by G Petr Mrazek by the time the puck drops on Wednesday night.
Though these two teams were on completely level terms last season in the playoffs and were separated only by an overtime series-clinching goal in Game 7 for the Blackhawks, there is no doubt who the superior team is right now. The Blackhawks are clearly going to be the team to beat on Wednesday night, and as long as they can ride the momentum from their wins over the weekend last week against far superior competition, they should be fine at the Joe.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Detroit Red Wings Pick: Chicago Blackhawks -140
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.