NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canadiens vs. Blackhawks (Jan. 13)
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Canadiens vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
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The Montreal Canadiens are going from 0-100 after their COVID-19 hiatus, playing on the second night of a back-to-back with travel on Thursday night.
Waiting for the Habs are the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won two straight and are 5-3-2 over their past 10 home games. The Hawks have turned things around on home ice, but there’s another trend emerging at the United Center this season.
Plenty of Hurdles for the Habs
As expected, the Habs came out flat in their first game back in nearly two weeks, dropping a 5-1 decision at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. They don’t have much time to pick up the pieces, getting back on the ice less than 24 hours later after a dismal showing.
Montreal attempted just eight scoring and three high-danger chances at five-on-five in their Atlantic Division battle, contributing to a 26.0% expected goals-for percentage. That was the second straight game that the Habs posted a game score in the 20s, putting up a 27.2% rating against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 1.
What’s reflected in those metrics are terrible defensive performances. The Habs gave up 25 quality chances and 41 scoring opportunities against Florida at five-on-five, jumping to 28 and 49, respectively, across all strengths. That makes last night’s metrics of 39 scoring and 13 high-danger chances look like a massive improvement; however, the Canadiens don’t have the offensive pedigree to keep pace with their opponents.
Compounding matters is that starting goalie Jake Allen left in the first period against the Bruins with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. Sam Montembeault was called into action and is the projected starter again on Thursday night, playing both nights of the back-to-back.
The 26-year-old has been ineffective with no rest, posting a 3.65 goals-against average and 87.5% save percentage in three appearances under those circumstances. Goaltending is one more hurdle for the Habs to overcome against the Hawks.
The Pragmatic Blackhawks
Based on what we’ve seen from the Blackhawks recently, they might not be in a position to capitalize on Montreal’s misfortune. Jonathan Toews and company have won two games, but they’ve looked unimpressive in doing so.
Chicago has attempted 11 total high-danger chances across both games, with only 28 scoring chances to go with those. That has resulted in two below-average game scores at five-on-five, perpetuating their poor offensive showings over their recent sample.
Just once over the past 13 games, the Hawks attempted more than nine high-danger chances at five-on-five, coming in with six or fewer in nine of those contests. Chicago is averaging a paltry 6.8 high-danger and 18.5 scoring chances over that span, out-chancing their opponents in quality chances just four times.
What’s reflected in the Blackhawks’ metrics is their passive offensive system leading to a lot of overtime games. Dating back to November 26, the Hawks have gone to overtime or a shootout in seven of their past 17 contests. That trend is even more pronounced at home, with Chicago needing extra time in six of their previous 10 home games.
The Hawks are in a good position to strike against the Habs, but their recent history suggests that they’ll be happy to get a point out of Thursday night’s contest.
Canadiens vs. Blackhawks Pick
Teams heading to overtime on the second night of a back-to-back is a trend we’re comfortable backing.
That aligns with the Hawks’ recent outcomes, as they’ve been comfortable playing a conservative system, taking their opponents to overtime before playing for the win. We’re betting that the overtime trend holds true on Thursday, giving the Hawks the advantage on the moneyline.
Our two plays are the 60-minute tie at +340 but would play anything better than +320 and the Hawks at -175.
Pick: Blackawks -175 or better; Game goes to overtime (+340)