NHL Picks, Predictions & Odds: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
Tuesday was a wild night in the NHL. We had late winning goals, late tying goals, overtime thrillers, and blowouts. Unfortunately, things will slow down in the NHL on Wednesday night as there are just two games on the schedule.
Coming into the season, I was very interested in seeing how the Nashville Predators looked. Two weeks into the season, I still have the same questions as I did before the year.
In terms of their analytic profile, the Predators have been just about league average. Their 49.97% expected goal rate tells that story. The Predators are doing a good job at generating shot attempts and playing with the puck in the offensive zone, but their shot quality metrics leave something to be desired.
Nashville has played games where they’ve had near 70% of the expected goals and they’ve played games where they’ve had just over 30% of the expected goals. We’ve seen them score five goals against the stingy Columbus Blue Jackets. We’ve watched them allow seven goals to the defensive-minded Dallas Stars.
The main question for Nashville coming into the season was their goaltending. Pekka Rinne struggled last season and his job was taken over by Juuse Saros. Saros was one of the better goalies in the second half of last season. He started this season winning his first two starts, stopping 71 of 74 shots. All questions answered, right?
Since then, Saros has given up eight goals on just 42 shots. Rinne has re-entered the picture, starting twice in the last four games. With Rinne playing on Tuesday, we expect to see Saros on Wednesday. Which version of Saros will we get?
Speaking of goaltending, it seems like things are finally starting to calm down in net for the Chicago Blackhawks. After starting the season giving up 20 goals in their first four games, Chicago has conceded just six times in their last three contests. Granted, two of those games were against the lowly Detroit Red Wings, but progress is progress.
Chicago has now gone 2-0-2 in their last four games after starting the season losing their first four games. Is it fools gold? Probably. I don’t think Chicago will be a very good team this year, as their underlying metrics show a below average team.
That being said, the Predators do not deserve to be -180 favorites in this contest. Do they win this game over 50% of the time? Yes. However a -180 moneyline implies they win this game nearly 65% of the time and that just seems too high.
I don’t feel great about betting on a deeply flawed team like Chicago, but at +156 there is value on the Blackhawks here.
Bet: Chicago @ +156 (Click To Bet)
Can we get a save?
That’s been a common question for both the Canucks and the Senators to begin this season.
All four goalies on these two teams’ rosters have save percentages below .890 and goals against averages north of 3.70. For comparison, if you’re below a .910 or north of 2.70, you’re struggling in the NHL.
Both of these teams went out and acquired big name goaltenders in the offseason. Ottawa traded for two time Cup winner Matt Murray from Pittsburgh. He’s rewarded them with a 1-3-1 record, giving up nearly four and a half goals per game. Vancouver signed former Cup winning goalie and Vezina trophy winner Braden Holtby in the off-season as a free agent. Holtby has responded with a save percentage of .888.
Murray’s -7.31 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) is the worst in the league by almost two goals. Holtby has split time with youngster Thatcher Demko to open the year, and they both have GSAx over -2.
You don’t need to look much further than the game these two teams played on Monday. Vancouver had just a 51% share of the expected goals, and generated just 2.13 expected goals scored at 5v5. They scored 7 on Ottawa. Goaltender Matt Murray didn’t give them a chance, and that’s been a common issue for both of these teams all season.
At this point, it doesn’t matter who starts for either of these teams. Whether it’s Holtby or Demko, both have struggled. If Murray is stapled to the bench after his awful performance, Marcus Hogberg does little to inspire confidence based on his performance this past weekend in Winnipeg, where he was beaten five times.
There’s two mindsets in sports betting. Some want to follow streaks. Others want to be the people that can predict when a trend breaks. In this instance, we know that eventually these teams will receive better goaltending. Do you want to step in front of this train right now?
Seven of Vancouver’s eight games have gone over the total. Four of Ottawa’s six games have gone over the total. We might be pushing our luck, but I’m riding this Canucks’ over streak until the money stops being green.
Bet: Over 6.5 goals @ -105 (Click To Bet)
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Expert NHL Picks
Blackhawks at Predators - @ +156 (Click To Bet)
Senators at Canucks - Over 6.5 goals @ -105 (Click To Bet)
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Our expert handicapper Pete Truszkowski is a die-hard Islanders fan but doesn't let it bias him. He was born and raised on Long Island and he's been betting on hockey for a decade. Don't miss out on his picks.