Date/Time: February 20, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: NHL Network
Moneyline: Chicago -230
For the seventh straight game, the Chicago Blackhawks picked up at least one point on Wednesday night. The goal will be getting both points on Friday night when the Colorado Avalanche come to town. The Blackhawks are five games into an eight-game homestand with a 3-0-2 record. The Avalanche just lost to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night to snap a modest two-game winning streak. Colorado had lost their previous four games. The Blackhawks are a big favorite on Friday night.
The Colorado Avalanche are not going to make the playoffs for the second straight season. They are 11 points out with 24 games to go entering play on Thursday and they just haven’t played with enough consistency this season. The Avalanche have not had more wins than losses, including overtime and shootout losses, at any point this season. A lack of consistent offense has had a lot to do with it. The Avs have only scored 2.5 goals per game this season and have the league’s second-worst power play at 12.2 percent.
The unfortunate part about it for the Avalanche is that they have been healthy for the most part this season. Semyon Varlamov missed some time, but Calvin Pickard was strong in relief. Thirteen different skaters have played at least 50 games this season. Jarome Iginla leads the team with 18 goals and 40 points. Defenseman Tyson Barrie is one of six other players above the 30-point mark and he leads the team in assists with 25. No Colorado player has scored more than three power play goals this season and nobody has cracked the 20-goal plateau yet. Semyon Varlamov is 16-15-7 with a 2.60 GAA and a .919 SV%.
The Chicago Blackhawks are comfortably in the playoffs as things stand right now, but they’d really like to start winning some of these overtime losses in order to close the gap on the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks are one of the top road teams in the NHL with a 17-11-1 mark away from the United Center, but the top two teams in each division get home ice advantage in the first round. The Blackhawks trail in the tiebreaker and trail the Blues by three points entering play on Thursday. Chicago is a top-10 team in most statistical categories and they have the second-best goal differential in the NHL.
The Blackhawks are a little top heavy on the score sheet due to injuries to Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg, two of their top secondary scoring threats. Patrick Kane has 63 points in 58 games and leads the team with 27 goals and 36 assists. Jonathan Toews is next in line with 47 points. Six other Blackhawks have scored at least 10 goals, including Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad, Sharp, and Versteeg. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks have not been able to consistently score of late, putting additional pressure on goaltender Corey Crawford. Crawford is 23-12-4 with a 2.24 GAA and a .922 SV% this season.
Free NHL Picks: Chicago Blackhawks
It’s a chalky price, but the Blackhawks definitely want to get back in the win column after the shootout loss to the Red Wings. The Avalanche are just 9-11-8 on the road this season and their lack of offensive firepower is tough to compensate for against talented teams like the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have won two of the three meetings this season and should take care of business again on Thursday.
The BTB Betting Center is your home for coverage on all 30 NHL teams and all of the games on the nightly schedule. Check out our matchups page and get the information you need to succeed.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.