If you told me in January that the Chicago Blackhawks would be in a playoff spot, you’d win some money.
If you also told me the Dallas Stars, the reigning Western Conference champions, would be second-to-last in the Central Division, you might be a millionaire.
Alas, here we are in early March, and the Stars are 10 points back of the Blackhawks for fourth place in the Central Division. None of this makes sense, and yet it’s another reminder of how weird this hockey season has been.
|Chicago Blackhawks||-195 (+1.5)||Over 5.5: +105||+120|
|Dallas Stars||+160 (-1.5)||Under 5.5: -125||-145|
Resurgence In Chicago
Find any word to describe the Blackhawks and it fits; eye-opening, surprising, over-achieving, astonishing, etc. Safe to say, the Blackhawks shouldn’t be here. And yet, there’s been a revival with “Chelsea Dagger” singing in the streets.
That resurgence starts with Patrick Kane. The forward, who just played his 1,000th NHL game on Monday, is having a Hart Trophy-caliber season with 38 points in 27 games. It’s not unusual to see Kane reach point-per-game territory, but he’s thrust himself into the MVP conversation.
But for as much as Chicago’s play has to do with its superstar, it’s the goaltending that’s saved the day for the Blackhawks. Expect Kevin Lankinen to start after Malcolm Subban played on Tuesday. Lankinen, one of the top rookie goalies this season, is 9-4-4 with a .919 save percentage.
A lot was made of how the Blackhawks would perform in net. Between trading Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Corey Crawford not re-signing and eventually retiring, the Blackhawks’ future in goal looked murky.
Right now, things are looking up for Chicago.
The Stars Are Not Shining
There’s been plenty of surprises this season. This division realignment and having teams face the same opponents at least eight times each has provided intrigue across the board.
But the fact the Stars have gone from two wins from a Stanley Cup, to essentially a bottom feeder in the standings, is quite the storyline of this weird NHL season.
This isn’t to say Dallas can’t turn things around. The COVID outbreak before the season did not help matters, nor do the absences of Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop due to long-term injuries. Both aren’t expected back for another four to six weeks, so there’s a chance for a turnaround, but it needs to start now.
Dallas had a rare six-goal explosion on Tuesday highlighted by a four-assist night from rookie Jason Robertson. If there was ever a time for the Stars’ depth to pick up the slack, it would be now.
The Odd Road Dog
A couple of things sports betting enthusiasts should keep in mind here: The over for Chicago has cashed in five of the last six games. After only one goal on Tuesday, expect this to continue with a strong Chicago response.
I also believe the goaltending matters. For as much as Subban has exceeded expectations in some games, he’s yet to put together that consistent game.
Lankinen, however, has been consistently good. Should he draw into the lineup, would expect Lankinen to have a strong start in Dallas. He needs a chance to rebound after allowing six goals against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
That +120 looks mighty good for Chicago knowing they tend to bounce back occasionally.
PICK: Chicago at +120, Over 5.5 at +105