Lightning vs. Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds & Pick: Chicago Has Value as Heavy Underdog (Tuesday, April 27)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Lankinen.
- The Blackhawks have shown promise this season in their rebuilding phase.
- A matchup with the defending champs will be a good litmus test to see where Chicago stands.
- Matt Russell breaks down why he's backing the Hawks against the Lightning on Tuesday night.
Lightning vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via BetMGM|
Sunday night’s Oscars telecast wasn’t well-received by most viewers and while part of that reason is difficult production circumstances, much of it is because this year’s crop of movies was hard to get excited about.
\We only have ourselves to blame, though, since at some point in the last two decades we collectively decided the only movie that was worth the risk in making was a high-budget superhero movie. I’ve never been into the Marvel Universe or DC Comics, so this trend isn’t for me. I feel like we’re always going to get to the same conclusion, where the heroes come back from adversity and conquer everything in the end.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are waiting for a pair of larger-than-life characters to return for a playoff run to defend the Stanley Cup. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are expected back for the playoffs. In the meantime, the rest of the squad is playing out the season with nothing in particular to avenge.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are in the hunt for another division title, so they’re doing just fine with a roster that still has Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and a supporting cast that includes a handful of guys who would be considered top-line options on many other teams.
That said, Tampa is forced to play a more conservative style, relying on lower-scoring chance games and hoping that star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy can hold up enough to that they don’t just make the playoffs. They want to win the Central Division and avoid a difficult first-round matchup.
The Lightning’s chances for first place have taken a hit in the last few weeks as they’ve gone 8-8 in their last 16 games. Again, good enough for a playoff team, but not upper echelon.
In that time, the Lightning’s rating in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast,” has dropped from better than 13% above-average at even-strength to slightly worse than 9%. That’s a result of this 16-game stretch where they’ve only been 2.2% above-average compared to the rest of the division.
Fundamentally, when using the Lightning’s metrics to create a fair price for them, I believe that you have to weigh this recent play significantly. Their 5-on-5 Expected Goal Share hasn’t been bad, with an average 1.75 xGF to 1.62 xGA, but they’ve given up 130 even-strength high-danger chances compared to creating 122 for themselves. Tampa Bay has had 10+ high-danger chances in four of the 18 games. It has had five or fewer high-danger chances in six of these games.
The Bolts are doing enough to get by, but they’re not the version of themselves that should be feared.
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.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ metrics are the scariest part about them, and not in a way that strikes fear in their opponents. At even-strength this season, my model sees Chicago as almost 13% below average thanks to surrendering nearly 100 more high-danger chances than their opponents. A high-danger chances difference of 94 and an Expected Goal Share of 46% doesn’t grade out well.
With an outside chance of catching the Predators for the only playoff spot left up for grabs in the Central, the Blackhawks have had to do something right this season.
Firstly, they’ve done well swiping points toward the standings by getting games to overtime more than one-quarter of the time, and almost always as an underdog. Chicago has also won eight of its last 10 games after regulation for valuable points.
There’s a pretty simple explanation for this. As the Blackhawks rebuild, they’re doing so with some high-end offensive talent that gives them an advantage during 3-on-3 play or the shootout. The last time these two teams met in Chicago for a three-game series, two of the three games went to overtime.
Perhaps the most surprising thing for the Blackhawks this season is that they’ve had better than average goaltending. Kevin Lankinen has come from off the roster at the start of the season to take the No. 1 gig and put up a +3.30 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). Meanwhile, Malcolm Subban has been solid when called upon, with almost identical traditional numbers of 2.86 GAA/.911 SV PCT to Lankinen (2.89/.911).
Betting Analysis & Pick
It’s never easy backing a team that could easily give up six goals without any blame landing at the crease of the goaltender, which is the case when the Blackhawks skaters hang their goaltender out to dry. However, when the Hawks are engaged, they can score with just about anybody, and definitely with this version of the Lightning.
My model makes the implied probability of Chicago winning this game at 41.7%. That translates to a true moneyline of +140. As something of a rule, I’m looking for at least a 3% edge when backing an underdog and it looks like we’ll get that here, as anything better than +160 qualifies as a bet on the home underdog.
Pick: Blackhawks +175 (play to +160)