It’s the Joel Quenneville Bowl.
What if there was an actual bowl like this? The trophy would have to be a giant mustache. The epicness of such debauchery would be hilarious.
But such a bowl would have to come in the postseason, and the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers would want to play each other for a much better, much larger trophy. This season, they’ll have to go through one another should it get to that point.
For this night, however, the Panthers and Blackhawks face off in a battle of two playoff teams in the Central Division. One is comfortably nested in the top three, while the other is hanging on for dear life.
|Florida Panthers||-1.5 (+155)||Over 6 (-125)||-150|
|Chicago Blackhawks||+1.5 (-185)||Under 6 (+105)||+125|
*Odds provided by BetMGM. Claim up to a $600 risk free bet offer with BetMGM in some states.
Are The Panthers For Real?
It’s the $1 million question in hockey circles for the past two years now. And surprisingly enough, it’s taken a division realignment and a condensed season for the Panthers to inch closer to a playoff spot.
But the Panthers have lied to us countless times before, and I’d have a hard time believing this year would be any different.
The big-game players are having great years. Sasha Barkov is well over a point per game while leading Florida in goals. Jonathan Huberdeau, too, is at a point per game. Patric Hornqvist might be the biggest trade bargain this season.
But it’s not the skaters that are the problem; it’s who the Panthers keep in net. Sergei Bobrovsky continues to be underwhelming for Florida, dropping toward a .900 save percentage and a goals-against average at nearly 3.00. Chris Driedger, however, has been terrific with fewer starts (8-3-2, 2.22 GAA, .924 save percentage).
The problem at hand is the Panthers needing to play their $10 million-per-year goalie because they have no choice. It would be ideal to play Driedger more, but the Panthers need to see a return of investment on Bobrovsky before everything goes haywire.
Chicago Crashing Down?
It wasn’t that long ago when we were discussing the Blackhawks facing a resurgence. While we picked that winner correctly the other day in Dallas, since that game, they’ve crashed and have done so hard.
Chicago is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games, but it goes deeper than that. The Blackhawks lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, and that doesn’t bode any better for this game. Not only is Chicago 4-10 in its last 14 when scoring two goals or fewer in the previous game, but the Blackhawks are 1-6 following a loss of three goals or more.
For as much as there is a following of Patrick Kane for Hart Trophy consideration, winning ways need to be had. Right now, the Blackhawks are not finding the success for that.
Chicago will be a heavy underdog, despite at home, placing +125 at Bet MGM. That, too, is not good; the Blackhawks have lost four straight while being an underdog.
So it’s not even just a fact the Blackhawks are on a downward spiral on the ice. NHL Betting circles don’t dictate things are going well in the Windy City.
Panthers At Blackhawks Prediction
There’s not much to think the Panthers are great right now, but they’re surely better than the other teams in their way. Florida should handle this game well.
Even on the road, there’s no one that knows Chicago’s tendencies than Quenneville. I’d go far as to say Florida should win both games of this two-game set. If the Panthers are going to get at least one quality start out of Bobrovsky, I’d expect it to be this one.
NHL Odds: Panthers at -1.5
See our complete Guide to NHL Betting and where to find the best odds.