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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Devils (December 6)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Devils (December 6) article feature image

Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils

  • The lowly Blackhawks meet the dominant Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday.
  • Chicago is a massive underdog in this contest, and even the puck line offers long odds for the struggling team.
  • Below, Nicholas Martin explains why a big plus-money Devils player prop is his pick for the game.

Blackhawks vs. Devils Odds

Blackhawks Odds+320
Devils Odds-420
Over/Under6 (-102 / -120)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two teams on the exact opposite ends of the NHL spectrum will meet Tuesday as the New Jersey Devils host the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Devils have been a pleasant surprise this season, and at 20-4-1 entering this contest, they now are priced as the second favorite currently in the race for the Presidents' Trophy at +350.

Contrarily, Chicago has been more or less as awful as expected this season, and the Blackhawks enter this contest in the midst of a 1-8-1 scuffle. While the Devils are +350 to win the Presidents' Trophy, Chicago is the third favorite to finish dead last at +425.

As you would expect, New Jersey is gigantic favorites here at longer than -400. How can we find betting value on such a contest?

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Chicago Blackhawks: As Bad as Expected

Chicago's surprisingly strong start seems to be far into the rear view mirror at this point.

With more below-replacement-level skaters than any other roster, the Blackhawks have been outplayed on a near nightly basis, and they deservedly sit below Arizona in the Central Division standings with a goal differential of -27.

My preseason expectation was that Chicago would be the league's worst side, and at a current price of +425, I still believe there is value to get involved with that market – though requiring a couple wins from the Anaheim Ducks is daunting.

The Blackhawks have played to a 41.15 xGF% over the last 10 games, which is on par with the league's worst sides.

If anything, the fact that Chicago has a more veteran-laden roster projects to be a concern moving later into a season, which is going to feel like a significant grind. It seems realistic to project that the worst has not yet come for the Hawks.

Chicago's defensive core is among the worst in the league, and the Blackhawks are always going to be liable to spend more time in the defensive zone than most with very few roster pieces capable of driving play at a positive level.

And if anything, the fact that Chicago has received close to breakeven goaltending from Arvid Soderblom is somewhat concerning.

Soderblom has been very steady this season with a -1.5 goals saved above expected rating and a .906 save % in 11 appearances.

If anything I would argue Soderblom's play has been a hair sharper than those numbers suggest, as even goals saved above expected models do not entirely display how tough playing behind such a shocking defensive side has been.

So, considering Soderblom is very unproven at the NHL level, it's somewhat scary to think that he has played very respectably and the Hawks are 7-13-4 with a -13 goal differential.

New Jersey Devils in Spectacular Form

New Jersey has arguably been the league's most impressive side thus far, and however you want to cut it, it really seems right now that it's the Devils, Bruins and then everybody else.

Over the last 10 games, New Jersey's play remains analytically spectacular, with a 58.79 xGF%, which is led in large by a 3.82 xGF/60 rating.

To the eye, New Jersey's play has appeared extremely sharp in every faucet of the game, and the Devils ability to suppress opposition chances and counter with a deadly transition game is second to none.

At 29, 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes has began to take his play to a whole new level, though analytically he did appear incredibly unlucky not to have produced more so at previous points in his young career.

Hughes grew up idolizing Hawks star Patrick Kane, and he has entered the league with a very similar career arch and play style. Any matchup between these two provides an exciting storyline on that front, and I expect Hughes to make his presence known in this soft matchup.

And regardless of that narrative, Hughes has been tilting the ice heavily most nights, regardless of line combination.

Tonight, Hughes appears likely to skate with Dawson Mercer and Erik Haula, and that trio has played to a 63% expected goals rating in 54.5 minutes of play.

Blackhawks vs. Devils Pick

New Jersey in all likelihood will tilt the ice emphatically in this contest, and a four-or-more-goal performance from 40 shots on goal seems likely much of the time.

Even still, the Devils are now priced at around -140 with most sportsbooks to cover the puck-line, and that is now past the mark where I would recommend backing New Jersey.

Hughes has been in entirely dominant form all season long, and even 29 points in 25 games seems to be a slight toward his offensive play. In such a good matchup I project Hughes to record over 1.5 points often enough to hold value here.

Hughes has recorded two or more points in eight of 17 contests dating back to the start of November, and in a nutshell, +186 (35% implied probability) is already a strong number in any matchup since that level of production from Hughes seems sustainable moving forward.

Yet in a matchup like tonight where New Jersey is significantly more likely to record four or more goals than in any average spot, +186 is an excellent number, and I believe this prop is going to cash more often than that lofty price suggests – by a solid margin.

Pick: Jack Hughes Over 1.5 Points +186 (Play to +170 at FanDuel)

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