NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Oilers vs. Blackhawks (March 3)
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Edmonton Oilers teammates Mikko Koskinen, left, and Leon Draisaitl.
- The Chicago Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers in Thursday's NHL action.
- Conor McDavid and the Oilers are solid -155 ML favorites against the struggling Blackhawks, which has analyst Grant White ready to back the visitors.
- Check out below why he's jumping on Edmonton to triumph.
Oilers vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Edmonton concludes a five-game road trip Thursday when it faces Chicago in NHL action.
The Oilers have split the first two contests, so this game determines if the journey away from home was a successful endeavor. A previous loss to the Chicago led to the regime change in Edmonton, making this matchup a poetic litmus test as to whether the team is better with its new head coach.
The analytics suggest Edmonton’s on-ice product has improved under head coach Jay Woodcroft. The Oilers are 7-3-0 under Woodcroft, outplaying their opponents at 5-on-5 at the same ratio and posting a cumulative 54.6% expected goals-for rating. Objectively, they are better at both ends of the ice, which has a positive impact on outcomes.
Offensively, Woodcroft is getting the most out of Connor McDavid and company. Edmonton has attempted at least 10 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 in five of the past 10 games, which occurred just 17 times in 44 games under former coach Dave Tippett.
That’s driven the Oilers’ average quality chances per game up to 10.0, which is bette than the 8.8 average through their first 44 games of the season. More importantly, scoring is up, with the club averaging 3.6 goals per game over their past 10 contests.
Things are looking a lot better in their own end as well. Edmonton has limited its opponents to eight or fewer quality chances in all but two games under the new head coach for an average of 7.4 high-danger opportunities against per game. Goaltending has been the scapegoat for Edmonton, and although it has been bad at times, it’s much better with the improved structure.
Edmonton goaltenders have allowed one or fewer goals at 5-on-5 in seven of the 10 games for a 93.5% save percentage. Overall, Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen have stopped 91.8% of shots over the 10-game sample.
There aren’t nearly as many bright spots in Chicago these days. The season drags on for the Blackhawks, who have effectively been eliminated from postseason contention with less than 30 games to go. Chicago has 46 points through 54 games, sitting 17 points off the final playoff spot. Sadly, the team’s metrics support this is as good as it gets for this iteration of the Blackhawks.
Chicago continues to get outplayed on a nearly nightly basis. The team has posted an expected goals-for percentage below 50.0% at 5-on-5 in eight of their past 10 outings, dropping their season-long rating to 45.8 percent.
The once-proud franchise has negative relative metrics across the board, getting out-possessed, outshot, and out-chanced in scoring and high-danger chances all season. The Blackhawks’ offense has been out of sorts recently, which will make it hard to keep pace with the superior Oilers.
High-danger chances have plummeted over Chicago’s recent sample, as it has attempted more than nine just twice over its past 10 outings. On a smaller scale, the Blackhawks been even worse, attempting more than six once over their previous four games.
Scoring opportunities have been even more disappointing, with the franchise failing to put more than 22 in any of their last seven outings. We’re not anticipating any growth against an Edmonton squad that has limited better opponents than Chicago.
Oilers vs. Blackhawks Pick
We’re expecting justice for Oilers fans against the Hawks in this matchup. Since these teams last battled these teams have headed in opposite directions. Edmonton has improved their analytics, leading to better metrics and more wins.
Conversely, the Blackhawks are spiraling out of control with no end in sight. This line doesn’t accurately reflect Edmonton’s chances and we’re comfortable backing the visiting side up to the -175 range.
Pick: Oilers ML (-155)