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NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Blackhawks: Back Nashville As It Makes Playoff Push (Friday, April 23)

NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Blackhawks: Back Nashville As It Makes Playoff Push (Friday, April 23) article feature image

Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Roman Josi.

  • After splitting a pair of games, the Predators head to Chicago for the rubber game against the Blackhawks.
  • While the games were split, Nashville appeared to be the better team for the majority of the two games.
  • Matt Russell breaks down where he sees betting value on Friday night at United Center.

Predators vs. Blackhawks Odds

Predators Odds -125
Blackhawks Odds +105
Over/Under 5.5
Time Friday, 8 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM

“Well, well, well. How the turn tables… “ — Michael Scott, The Office.

One the top one million quotes from NBC’s The Office applies to the Nashville Predators third straight meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks in multiple ways. Actually, that quote doesn’t really apply to anything, but the General Manager of Dunder Mifflin’s attempt to say “How the tables have turned” does, given how many different ways this matchup has played out on and off the ice this week.

Nashville Predators

The Predators won convincingly on Monday at home where they opened -135 which according to my “Let’s Do That Hockey” Model, as heard on the “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast,” was a price that didn’t offer value to either side. While the scoreboard showed a dominant win, the underlying metrics suggested that this was a much closer game, as the Preds created nine high-danger chances to the Hawks’ six. The difference came as Nashville converted four of those chances for an absurd 44% rate, which is 30% above league average. 

The crooked number on the board in the 5-2 win might have sent the market into a tailspin, as the two teams moved over to Chicago for the second matchup and the Predators opened with a moneyline price of … -135. Whether it’s hockey or any other sport, and regardless of attendance in the building, it’s incredibly rare to have the site change but the price not.

Naturally, this seemed to create some value on the Blackhawks at +115, though the model was going to need +120 to bet on Chicago, so we ended up on the sideline for the game. When the Preds took a 4-1 lead through two periods, this seemed to be a really good result for our betting discipline. Then, like an old school 80’s DJ on the ones and twos, the tables turned.

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 and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

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Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks scratched the record and stormed back in the third period to tie the game at 4 and force overtime, during which they scored during the 3-on-3 portion to get the revenge win. Maybe it’s not all that surprising at this point, but the Hawks won despite being outplayed at even-strength for the game. The 16-8 high-danger chance advantage for the Predators belies the first 40 minutes more than it does the third period and overtime win for Chicago. 

As we look towards the third game of this series, with the setting still the Windy City, the market has turned the tables on the pricing for the game. The Predators are no longer opening -135 to the Blackhawks +115, as the opening lines appear to be a shade shy of a pick’em. The Predators opened -125 on the moneyline to the Blackhawks +100. The question to this pricing turn is, why?

The Blackhawks rate as 12.5% below-average this season at even-strength. Through two games against the Predators this week, the Hawks have 14 even-strength high-danger chances to Nashville’s 25. While their conversion rate is an unsustainable 28%, as Michael Scott might say, those volume numbers alone speak… volumes. The Blackhawks were on the short side of the Expected Goal Share for over 100 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey at 42%. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

While the first game was closer than the scoreboard indicates, we’ve got five strong periods from the Predators and one period where the Blackhawks took advantage of Nashville maybe thinking they’d already won the game. 

One concern for backing the Predators may be that we’re due for Juuse Saros getting a night off. His play in the second half of the season has been superlative and it may be considered a downgrade to Nashville that the veteran Pekka Rinne will likely start, but in this situation I rather see a rested Rinne than a slow Saros. Meanwhile, Chicago will go back to Kevin Lankinen, who while better an option than Malcolm Subban still gave up five goals on 22 shots on Monday. 

While they still managed a point towards the standings on Wednesday, the Predators have both the Blackhawks and the red hot Stars chasing in their rear view mirror as they drive towards the final playoff spot in the Central. The third period collapse had to feel like a wake-up call, and with opportunities dwindling to create some space, I expect the Preds to re-turn the tables back on Chicago, at a fair price for the rightful favorite. 

Pick: Predators -125 (play to -120)

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