Friday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Arizona Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Friday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Arizona Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks article feature image
Credit:

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Kane

  • The Arizona Coyotes take on the Chicago Blackhawks in Friday's NHL action.
  • These are two really bad teams at this point in the season, boasting a combined record of 4-20-3 entering this affair.
  • Carol Schram breaks down the match below and gives her top pick.

Coyotes vs. Blackhawks Odds

Coyotes Odds +165
Blackhawks Odds -190
Over/Under 5.5
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+ & Hulu
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

It’s the Battle of the Basement for these two Central Division teams on Friday night at United Center.

The Chicago Blackhawks are teasing the possibility of turning their season around, reeling off two straight wins after coach Jeremy Colliton was fired last weekend. The Arizona Coyotes finally won their first game of the year last weekend, but their struggles have continued.

Will those trends continue on Friday night? Where does the smart money lie?

Chicago Blackhawks

Oh-so-tentatively, the Blackhawks are starting to right the ship after a disastrous start to their season, both on and off the ice.

Coach Colliton’s dismissal may have given the Hawks a chance at a fresh start. Since Derek King took over behind the bench, with a big assist from incumbent assistant Marc Crawford, Chicago has squeaked out a 2-1 overtime win over Nashville and a 3-2 shootout victory over Pittsburgh.  

The Penguins have had some early-season issues of their own and are without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but Tuesday’s win gives embattled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury something to build off. The veteran stopper turned away a season-high 42 of 44 shots through 65 minutes then foiled his former teammates Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang in the shootout to secure his second win as a Blackhawk — and his second in four games.

It’s true that many of the Hawks’ full-season stats are grim — in all situations, 30th in goals per game and 29th in goals against, and at 5-on-5, they’re 30th in Corsi For Percentage and dead last in Expected Goals Percentage. However, those numbers have started to skew in a more positive direction since Colliton’s departure.

The Blackhawks’ special teams have been quite robust all season. They have a 20% Power Play Success Rate (17th) and are tied for third-best on the penalty kill (88.9%). New acquisition Seth Jones ranks among the NHL’s top defensemen with 12 points so far this season, while Patrick Kane’s 13 points in 10 games are on par with his usual star-level production.

Arizona Coyotes

While the Blackhawks are fighting to overcome some serious challenges, the Coyotes are still stuck in the mud.

Following an offseason selloff that saw them part ways with key players like captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, high-energy scorer Conor Garland and reliable netminder Darcy Kuemper, the Coyotes’ results this season have managed to be even worse than the already-low expectations.

Arizona has picked up points in just two of 13 games so far — a 5-4 home win over Seattle last Saturday and a 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo in their second game of the season. The Coyotes are last in the league in goals per game (1.62), last in goals against (4.08), second-last on the power play (9.7%) and last on the penalty kill (63.4%).

With those woeful special teams dragging their overall numbers down, Arizona’s 5-on-5 data is actually a little better than Chicago’s — only sixth-worst in Expected Goals and seventh-worst in Corsi For Percentage. But that’s small consolation and shouldn’t tip the scales in their favor on Friday night.

For a stretch of time, the Coyotes were keeping games close thanks to strong work from rookie goaltender Karel Vejmelka, but they may have gone to that well too often.

With nine starts and two relief appearances in Arizona’s first 13 games, Vejmelka’s record is a discouraging 0-8-1, and he has now been pulled in his last two starts — after giving up two goals on two shots against Seattle before Scott Wedgewood stepped in to pick up the win and then after he allowed five goals on 22 shots against Minnesota on Wednesday.

Wedgewood, the 29-year-old, has been an unexpected bright spot. Picked up from New Jersey off waivers last week, he has stopped 35-of-37 shots he has faced in his two relief appearances so far, and he has credit for Arizona’s only win of the year.

He’s expected to get his first start as a Coyote on Friday, but don’t expect too much from him. Earlier this season in New Jersey, his stat line was a fairly pedestrian 0-2-1 with an .880 Save Percentage. His NHL career stat line is 11-20-9 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .902 Save Percentage. There’s a reason he why he hasn’t even been able to establish himself as a full-time backup at the NHL level.

Coyotes vs. Blackhawks Pick

Chicago is wrapping up a three-game homestand on Friday, while Arizona will be on the first game of a back-to-back that’s part of a three-game road swing.

It’s certainly too soon to say that the Blackhawks’ season has turned a corner, but both teams have a chance to gain confidence off strong recent performances from their goaltenders.

At -190, the oddsmakers are giving the Blackhawks better than a 65% chance of victory. That’s not exactly bettor-friendly. Given that the Coyotes’ current win rate has them on pace for a historically bad 19 points over 82 games, regression theory suggests that some bounces should go Arizona’s way at some point.

That, along with the Wedgewood factor and the potential for a juicy payout, could make a bet on Arizona tempting. Unfortunately, there’s simply too much wrong with this Coyotes team.

The Blackhawks have a ways to go before they salvage their season, but they have shown over the last two games that they could be on that path.

Look for a proud group of Chicago players to close out this homestand on a high note, but don’t play this game down any further than Thursday afternoon’s line.

Pick: Blackhawks ML (-190)

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