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NHL Odds & Pick for Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks: Chicago Remains Live Underdog on Thursday (Feb. 4)

NHL Odds & Pick for Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks: Chicago Remains Live Underdog on Thursday (Feb. 4) article feature image

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Nikita Zadorov, Jordan Martinook

  • The Chicago Blackhawks take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Thursday's NHL action.
  • Malcolm Subban will get the start in goal for underdog Chicago.
  • Matt Russell tells us why he likes the Blackhawks in this spot below.

Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks Odds

Hurricanes -182
Blackhawks +155
Puckline +1.5/-1.5
Over/Under 6
Time | TV Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings

Editor’s note: Goaltender Malcolm Subban will get the start for the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

If you’ve been reading my previews in this space, and/or listen to THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, or have just had a conversation with me at any point of our lives, you know I like a good pop culture reference to drive the point home about a betting angle.

During the Carolina Hurricanes game against the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the Canes TV announcers, made a reference to Margaret Thatcher. You see, the former British Prime Minister was known as “The Iron Lady”, and Hurricanes defenceman Brady Skjei has such a good breathing capacity that he has iron lungs.

It was an incredible stretch, admittedly, but I couldn’t be more jealous of the attempt. Sometimes you have to take your shots when you feel like you’ve got something.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes certainly have something. They’re a sneaky good pick to upset the apple cart in the Central division as the team that could knock the Tampa Bay Lightning off their perch as the bad boys on the block. My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model has them 11% above average at even-strength, and that’s based on the numbers stemming from a choppy start to the season.

A COVID-19 break and some pieces in and out of the lineup, including nominal starting goaltender Petr Mrazek.

The Canes have progressively gotten better and better at creating High-Danger Chances at even strength as their line graph looks like the mountain climber game from The Price Is Right. There’s not much to complain about when it comes to the Canes. Carolina was the better team 5-on-5 on Tuesday night, so our bet on Chicago was probably fortunate to get to overtime, and subsequently a shootout.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

Chicago Blackhawks

We didn’t expect the Blackhawks to be the better team at even-strength when we bet on them at +150. We were counting on Chicago to be a net winner on the power play and on the Hawks’ upgrade in goal with Finnish rookie Kevin Lankinen.

Sure enough, Chicago scored a power play goal, and stayed out of the penalty box for the first 55 minutes of the game. They were able to kill the only penalty they took. Naturally, Lankinen was key to the late-game kill, and was stellar otherwise while stopping 38 of 41 shots.

The two elements of the handicap were correct, and that’s what sent us into the shootout’s 50/50 win probability with a significant underdog. As we head into Thursday nights’ rematch, there’s no reason to shift our philosophy given the Hawks have proven they’re capable of doing what we asked them to do.

Betting Analysis & Pick

My model doesn’t love the Blackhawks as they’re rated 10% below average, but my expected moneyline price has the Hurricanes as -133 favorites on the road. That’s without factoring in the situational trend of the rematch.

I’ve talked in this space about how teams are getting revenge after losing the first game at a better than 60% clip. In many cases when they’re not getting that revenge,  it’s because they blew their opportunity to win the first meeting when they were actually the better team in the game at even-strength. The Blackhawks may actually benefit here from not playing particularly well the first time around while 5-on-5.

A small boost to their even-strength play from Chicago in conjunction with more from what we’ve seen from their power play and Lankinen between the pipes should make Chicago worth a second try at the underdog price.

Pick: Blackhawks (+150 or better)

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