Tonight sees a Western Conference tilt with the Pacific Division’s Calgary Flames hosting the Central Division’s Chicago Blackhawks.
While the Hawks put together a nice little run in the middle of January that saw them win six of seven games, they have regressed back to the mean with two straight losses to the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks (as Michael Caine’s character says in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, “Come back to reality, Tom”).
Will Chicago continue to come back down to earth, or can it pull a rabbit out of the hat on the road? Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Blackhawks vs Flames on Thursday, January 26.
Blackhawks vs Flames best odds
Blackhawks vs Flames picks and predictions
While I gave out the Chicago Blackhawks to lose by two or more to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, they only lost that contest by one after multiple failed empty-netters by Los Angeles. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that Sunday was the first time in weeks that Chicago lost the game but covered the puck line.
Entering this contest, the Hawks have failed to cover the puck line in 14 of their last 15 losses, a trend that’s likely to continue against the vastly superior Calgary Flames. At 5-on-5, Chicago ranks last in the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) and third-to-last in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60).
Not only do the Blackhawks possess both a terrible offense and defense, but the goaltending is not trustworthy either, as Petr Mrazek is slated to start between the pipes in this contest. It has been a forgettable campaign for the veteran netminder, who is 5-12-1 with a .888 save percentage (SV%) and 3.89 goals against average (GAA) through 20 starts.
Based on his metrics, positive regression is unlikely, as Mrazek ranks fourth-to-last among starting goaltenders in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5. That means Chicago ranks in the Bottom 4 in the league in offensive, defensive, and goaltending production.
Meanwhile, at 5-on-5, the Flames rank in the Top 8 in the league in both xGF/60 and xGA/60. Additionally, Calgary will also boast the goaltending advantage with Jacob Markstrom, slated to start between the pipes.
While it has also been a forgettable campaign for Markstrom, he still ranks higher than Mrazek in every single surface-level stat and underlying metric. With the better offense, defense, and goaltender, back the home team to both win and cover.
My best bet: Flames –1.5 (-145 at BetMGM)
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Blackhawks vs Flames moneyline analysis
If you like the Flames in this matchup, then taking the puck line at –145 is the direction to head instead of laying –400 on the moneyline. First of all, -400 is just way too much juice to lay on a side in a hockey game.
Secondly, if you are fading the Hawks, then it is the more profitable option to also fade them on the puck line. As mentioned above, 14 of their last 15 losses have come by at least a two-goal margin.
Meanwhile, nine of the Flames’ last 15 wins have been by at least two goals.
Blackhawks vs Flames Over/Under analysis
The Hawks are a tough team to gauge in regards to handicapping the total, as they are one of the few squads in the league that struggles to both score and shut down opposing offenses. At 5-on-5, they rank in the bottom three of the league in both xGF/60 and xGA/60.
Their lack of scoring options offensively would suggest taking the Under, but their uninspired defense and lackluster goaltending is also capable of allowing teams to notch six goals. The offense should struggle mightily against a hard-nosed Calgary blue line, while the Chicago defense is likely to leave Mrazek out high-and-dry once again, which is bad news for a goaltender who has struggled in his own right.
Blackhawks vs Flames betting trend to know
Of the Hawks’ last 15 losses, 14 have come by at least a two-goal margin. Find more NHL betting trends for Blackhawks vs Flames.
Blackhawks vs Flames game info
|Location:||Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB|
|Date:||Thursday, January 26, 2023|
|Puck drop:||9:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||NBCS-CHI, Sportsnet West|