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Weekly NHL Betting action sees the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Nashville Predators April 15 at Bridgestone Arena. Cappers Picks provides free NHL handicapping tips all season long.
The Chicago Blackhawks begin their quest for a third Stanley Cup since 2010 on Wednesday night when they travel to Nashville to take one of the nicest surprises in hockey this past season – the Nashville Predators.
Daily NHL Hockey Odds
Chicago (48-28-3-3) at Nashville (47-25-4-6)
When: 8:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
Broadcast: NBCSN, TVA, SN360, CSN-CH, FS-TN
Chicago Blackhawks +1½ -310 -101 Ov 5 -106
Nashville Predators -1½ +260 -109 Un 5 -104
The Hawks enter the series with the best pedigree in the sport – half of this team has endured long playoff runs and have reached the Ultimate Goal while Nashville has yet to taste much postseason success. Both teams struggled down the stretch of the Regular Season – the Hawks lost four straight heading into the postseason and the Preds went 0-4-2 in their final six games.
So who will draw first blood in this intriguing Round 1 series? Let’s break it down.
The biggest news ahead of Game 1 comes out of the Chicago Blackhawks camp – Patrick Kane will suit up for the first time since February 24 after breaking his collar bone. Kane’s presence is an absolutely monumental lift for the Hawks both offensively and emotionally as well. Kane was tied for the league lead in scoring and was among the front-runners for MVP honors before his injury. He has averaged nearly a point per game in the postseason with 37 goals and 54 assists in 93 games.
Kane’s return couldn’t come at a better time – Chicago scored just five total goals during their season ending four game skid – the Hawks shockingly shocked one or less goal nine times in their last 21 games. Kane had 27 goals and 64 points in 61 games prior to his injury – as dangerous a player as there was in the NHL. Through all of the offensive woes, the Hawks still had eight players with at least 10 goals – they were balanced up and down the lineup and should be able to give the Preds fits on Wednesday night.
Defensively the Blackhawks were terrific this past season – they allowed just 2.27 goals per game. Chicago’s defensive corp. is experienced; they are talented and should be able to minimize the effectiveness of Nashville’s offense Wednesday night.
It helps that Corey Crawford is playing his best hockey of the season. Crawford finished 32-20-5 with a 2.27 goals-against average and held the Hawks in the race down the stretch. He went just 1-3-0 in his last four starts but over that span posted a terrific .944 save percentage and very good 1.78 GAA
The Nashville Predators were the top team in the NHL for a good portion of the season but they absolutely laid an egg down the stretch dropping 15 of its last 21 and losing nine of their last 11 games on home ice. Simply put they did not play well the second half of the season – they are perhaps colder than any team entering the playoffs this season.
The biggest concern for Nashville is that their patented defensive play that all-but-disappeared down the stretch. They allowed 24 goals during their season-ending six game losing streak and allowed at least three goals in 15 of its final 21 contests – yuk! Pekka Rinne was average in the second half of the season – not a good sign for a team that will have to absolutely get the best out of their keeper in order to have a chance in the series. Rinne was 0-2-2 in his last four starts with a 3.41 GAA and .857 save percentage – double yuk!
Offensively the Preds actually finished higher than the Hawks in goals per game this year. That said they simply don’t have the balance or the firepower to keep up in this one.
James Neal was pointless in his last three games – not a good sign when the Hawks are coming to town.
NHL Gambling Trends
• Under is 11-4-2 in CHI last 17 road games.
• Under is 20-8-6 in CHI last 34 overall.
• NAS are 0-8 in their last 8 vs. Western Conference.
• Over is 5-1-3 in NAS last 9 overall.
• Over is 5-1-2 in NAS last 8 vs. Western Conference.
• Under is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.
The Chicago Blackhawks won three of four against the Nashville Predators, but each game was close. The Predators were the best home team in the Western Conference this season – 28 wins. But with Nashville’s late season struggles and the fact that Patrick Kane will be there to provide a huge boost for his team, the Preds look as though they are in some trouble in the series.
Expect the Hawks to set the tone in Game 1 and to add to Nashville’s recent woes.
NHL Betting 4* Free Play – Chicago Blackhawks -101