NHL Betting Odds & Pick: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators (Saturday, April 3)
John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nashville Predators standout Eeli Tolvanen scores a goal against the Dallas Stars.
- The Nashville Predators host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in a crucial NHL showdown.
- Both franchises, who are tied with 39 points in the Central Division, are chasing one of the final playoff spots.
- Michael Ianniello explains why he thinks the Predators move to 5-0 on the season against the Blackhawks below.
Blackhawks vs. Predators Odds
|Over/Under||5.5 (-107 / -114)|
|Time | TV||Saturday, 3 p.m. ET | NHL.tv|
|Odds updated Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and via DraftKings.|
This year has been an up-and-down rollercoaster for both the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks, who each find themselves with 39 points and fighting for the final playoff spot in the NHL’s Central Division.
With Tampa Bay, Florida and Carolina all but locked in the playoffs, the final spot will likely come down to one of these teams. Both have to keep an eye on Columbus and Dallas, who are fighting to close the gap.
Despite sitting tied on points, Nashville (19-18-1) and Chicago (17-16-5) have been going in opposite directions as of late.
Even after a disappointing 2019-20 season, expectations were even lower for the latest edition of the Blackhawks. Longtime netminder Corey Crawford moved on. Captain Jonathan Toews left the team indefinitely following his surprise medical issue.
Making matters worse was the fact rising star Kirby Dach broke his wrist during the World Junior Championships.
Despite all of this negativity, Chicago was one of the surprise stories during the first two months of the campaign, sitting at 12-7-4 at the end of February and looking like a playoff contender.
Rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen has been a huge part of their success, posting a 13-9-4 record with a .920 save percentage.
The other key for the Blackhawks was a lethal power play. Through the end of February, Chicago led the NHL with 22 power-play goals, converting 33.3% of its opportunities. The Blackhawks went just six games without a tally on the man advantage through the first two months of the season.
Well, the power play has regressed as expected, and Chicago managed just nine power-play goals in all of March, scoring at an 18-percent clip, and went eight games without a power-play goal during the month.
While they were never all that strong at 5-on-5, the Blackhawks have regressed in that department as well, with their HDC% falling from 44.93 in January and February to 41.25 in March. Chicago’s xGF% also went in decline, going from 46.86 to 41.86, which ranks last in the entire league.
Chicago went just 5-9-1 last month, meaning it’s quickly falling out of playoff position and the race toward the postseason.
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.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Blackhawks’ wild ride might be on the way down, but the Predators have been on the way up as of late.
The first full season with John Hynes behind the bench got off to a brutal start. Just three weeks ago, Nashville had an 11-16-1 record and sat seventh in the Central Division, with the leader firmly on the hot seat.
The Predators have battled both injuries and COVID-19 issues this season, and Matt Duchene, Ryan Ellis, Filip Forsberg, Brad Richardson and Mark Borowiecki are all currently on injured reserve. Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Johansen have all missed time during the season as well.
Nashville has been resilient, though, as it has rattled off eight wins in its last 10 games. That’s put the franchise fourth in the Central, meaning it’s current holding the final playoff spot. With all the injuries, the Predators have had to rely on their depth, with 11 different skaters notching at least 10 points so far.
Unlikely names like Eeli Tolvanen and Calle Jarnkrok have led the way in the last 10 games, with Tolvanen posting 10 points and Jarnkrok with nine during the stellar stretch of play.
Juuse Saros, who has triumphed in four of his last five starts, has firmly replaced veteran Pekka Rinne as the Predators’ No. 1 goaltender. Saros boasts a 10-7-0 record with a.923 save percentage this season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Despite sitting tied on points in the division, these teams are heading in dramatically different directions. Nashville has gone 8-2 in its last 10 games, with Chicago going just 3-7 overall.
During the last three weeks, the Blackhawks are last in the NHL with a 41.3 xGF% at 5-on-5. The Predators sit 10th, with a 51.4 xGF percentage. Chicago has the worst CF% at even strength this season, and now that its power play is no longer blistering hot, it has had more HDC than its opponent just once in their last 14 games.
Nashville has gone 4-0 this season against Chicago and the Blackhawks have not tallied more HDC versus the Predators all season. For those reasons, I’m backing Nashville to earn the victory.
Pick: Nashville -122 (play to -140)