Detroit Red Wings @ Chicago Blackhawks Free NHL Pick 12/30/11
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The Red Wings are going to come into this one just three points in the rearview mirror of the Blackhawks with a game in hand. They have to think that they can get the job done and eventually overtake one of the youngest and hottest teams in hockey, but it is going to be hard to get the job done in the Windy City in the dying days of 2011. The Wings are only 9-10-0 on the road this year in comparison to the 14-2-1 that they are at home, and Jimmy Howard has been night and day when playing at Joe Louis Arena and elsewhere on the campaign. The offense, which has already netted 118 goals, the third most in the Western Conference, does obviously have its stars as always, but again, so many perform a heck of a lot better at home than they do on the road. Tomas Holmstrom is still out of the lineup, but Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Valtteri Filppula are all having fine seasons with double digits worth of goals and assists. Franzen already has nine power play goals on the season as well to lead the team, especially with Holmstrom, who has all six of his goals on the man advantage, nursing a groin injury.
Speaking of teams that play a heck of a lot better hockey at home than on the road… The Blackhawks are 10-7-1 on the road this year and 13-3-3 at home, and the latter three losses all came via a shootout, not via overtime. That means in regulation games, the Hawks have been absolutely remarkable this season, and generally speaking, you have to go level with them for 65 minutes to be able to have a shot to claim two points. The team is coming off of a bad 2-0 loss at home to a suspect Los Angeles Kings team, and that ended a run of back to back awesome games here at the United Center in which Chicago outscored its foes 9-2. That being said, there are still two more home games on this run and just one road game in the next two weeks, so winning this game would be a tremendous boost to what could be a nice run towards a big lead in the Central Division. Marian Hossa already has 40 points to lead the team this season, and he is the star of the show with a +22 +/- as well.
Detroit Red Wings @ Chicago Blackhawks Pick: We think that the opportunity to really put the Red Wings behind them by a comfortable margin is going to be too great for the Blackhawks to miss out on, especially knowing that the hosts are coming off of a terrible offense game at home on Wednesday. Chicago’s offense gets going again and solves the riddle of Howard in the pipes and gets the job done to stretch this lead out to five points in the Central.
Free Hockey Pick: Chicago Blackhawks