Panthers vs. Blackhawks NHL Odds & Pick: Chicago’s Struggles Will Continue at Home (April 29)
Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Florida Panthers celebrate.
- Florida has been one of the NHL's biggest surprises this season and has secured a top-three seed in the Central Division.
- After a strong start, Chicago has stumbled down the stretch winning just nine of its last 23 games.
- See why Nicholas Martin thinks those struggles will continue for the Blackhawks, even at home.
Panthers vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||Thursday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings|
The Florida Panthers will come in to the United Center looking to build on an impressive 7-4 win in Nashville Tuesday night, while Chicago enters hoping to show better defensively after a 7-4 home defeat vs. Tampa Bay.
Chicago began this season with some surprisingly strong results, opening with a 13-8-5 record behind some excellent goaltending from rookie Kevin Lankinen, Hart-nominee-level play from Patrick Kane and a large total of single-goal victories.
But the results have regressed significantly, resembling closer to what most expected from this Chicago group this year, as the Blackhawks own a 9-14 record so far on the back half of this shortened season. The Blackhawks have allowed an average of 3.39 goals against, over those 23 games, and skated to an xGF% of 43.44.
There are certainly questions defensively yet again, with the bottom two defensive pairs consistently allowing a lot of chances against behind a very mediocre top pairing of Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Murphy.
The Blackhawks have certainly faded down the stretch, but ultimately it has still been a positive year for a team in the midst of a rebuild. Young offensive talents in Dominik Kubalik, Pius Suter, Kirby Dach Alex Debrincat (still just 23 years old) continue to show very well and give a lot of cause for optimism amongst Hawks fans.
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.
Florida is one of the league's better stories so far this season, as the group have surprised in locking up one of the top-three seeds in the Central Division while playing a very exciting brand of hockey. Catching Carolina for first in the division will be tough but would certainly yield a big reward in avoiding the defending champion Lightning in round one.
The Panthers have continued to put up very consistent results so far this season, entering this one in the midst of a 6-2-1 stretch, as they remain alive in a very tough division race. The Panthers have averaged 3.66 goals per game over those nine contests, with a +9 goal differential much in line with an xGF% of 58.88 over that time.
The Panthers should likely meet the Lightning in round one, in what would be a very exciting intrastate matchup.
Florida has not announced who will be their starting goaltender for Thursday, but Chris Driedger will miss at least two more games after sustaining an injury Monday night.
Highly-touted prospect Spencer Knight has been superb through his first two NHL starts and certainly adds to a crowded goaltending situation already with Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Chicago has faded down the stretch, allowing a lot of goals and asking too much of rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen. The Panthers continue to put together very consistent results with strong underlying numbers, and I think we are likely to see their talented offence generate a ton of quality scoring chances against a very soft Chicago defensive core in this one.
Pick: Florida Regulation Win +100