There are only two games on the NHL betting board for Sunday with the second game featuring the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers.
The Blackhawks opened their season with back-to-back lopsided defeats and are installed as +135 underdogs against the Florida Panthers, who will be playing their first game of the year.
We break down the NHL odds with our best free Blackhawks vs. Panthers picks and predictions for Sunday, January 17, with the puck dropping at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Chicago Blackhawks at Florida Panthers Betting Preview
Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews C (Out), Kirby Dach C (Out), Carl Soderberg C (Out), Brent Seabrook D (Out), Alex Nylander LW (Out), Zack Smith LW (Out).
Panthers: Sergei Bobrovsky G (Out), Juho Lamikko C (Out), Markus Nutivaara D (Questionable).
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Betting Trend to Know
The Under is 9-2 in the last 11 meetings in Florida. Find more NHL betting trends for Blackhawks vs. Panthers.
Just how bad are the Chicago Blackhawks this season? That's the big question for hockey bettors after they snuck into the postseason last year and then said goodbye to long-time netminder Corey Crawford, while their captain and two-way anchor Jonathan Toews remains out of the lineup with a mystery illness.
If the early returns on the season are any indication, the Blackhawks will be very bad after losing their first two contests of the year by a total score of 10-3. That said, those games came against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, so the sledding should be easier for them on Sunday.
The Panthers finished in 10th place in the Eastern Conference last season but promptly got bounced in the Qualifying Round during the league's restart. They are strong up front, ranking seventh in the league in goals scored last season, but were brutal on the defensive end of the ice and were even worse in net, with free-agent signing Sergei Bobrovsky proving to be a $70-million bust.
While they should be a bit better on defense, the Panthers also took a step back on offense with the departures of Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. This is still a team that is just 2-9 in their last 11 home games and I don't trust them as -160 favorites in their first game of the season.
Florida could show signs of rust in its season debut, while Chicago should be ready to roll as it plays its third game of the year in the Sunshine State. Back the underdogs.
PREDICTION: Chicago ML (+135)
These teams were both among the worst defensive squads in the league a year ago, with Chicago allowing the most shots in the league and the Panthers ranking 22nd in shots allowed and 23rd in high danger chances. That said, there's reason to like the Under with the total for this game set at 6.5.
We already mentioned the Panthers letting Hoffman and Dadonov leave via free agency—and no matter how you slice it, losing 54 goals has to hurt. And while Bobrovsky was brutal in nets, his backup Chris Driedger was much better posting a 2.05 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage across 12 games.
With Bobrovsky currently deemed "unfit to play" as he works his way back into game shape, Driedger will get to face a Blackhawks squad that has generated just 11 high-danger scoring chances at even strength this season.
While the Blackhawks have looked awful at stopping the puck, with both Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia surrendering five goals in their respective starts, they can't possibly be quite as terrible as their combined .857 save percentage indicates.
With the Under going 6-2-1 in the Panthers' last nine games overall, take the Under 6.5 at plus money.
PREDICTION: Under 6.5 (+110)
Blackhawks vs Panthers Betting Card
- Chicago ML (+135)
- Under 6.5 (+110)
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