The Chicago Blackhawks are about to become sellers at the NHL’s trade deadline for the first time in nearly a decade. To be honest it’s even too late for a last ditch run at the postseason as Chicago sits 13 points out of just the Wild Card race with three teams they’d have to leapfrog. There will be no postseason for the Ottawa Senators either. The Sens are in 2nd to last in the Eastern Conference a year after being a game away from making the Stanley Cup. Since neither team has anything to lose, how do you handicap the 2/21 NHL free pick?
It’s GAMEDAY! The #Blackhawks and Senators are set to square off at the @UnitedCenter after @muzz19 takes #OneMoreShift with the team. #CHIvsOTT Notes: https://t.co/JWPk05CUG3 pic.twitter.com/JSuFtbhzSm
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 21, 2018
Ottawa Not Playing Horrible – But Still Out of the Hunt
The Senators have actually gone 6-4 over their last 10 games which is a nice way to bounce back from a six game losing streak. One of Ottawa’s biggest problems this year is that when they’ve been bad – they’ve been real bad posting losing streaks of 6, 4, 5, and 7 games on the season. The Sens are especially downtrodden on the road, where they are just 7-17-2 on the year. That record is going to be hard to improve on in the 2/21 NHL free pick as Ottawa has dropped 7 of the last 8 at the United Center. Both teams are playing tonight on one days rest. Although Ottawa played in Nashville on Monday while Chicago has been at home the last three games.
The Senators may be playing with a carefree attitude on Wednesday night knowing their games with team leader and captain Erik Karlsson might be numbered. Karlsson has spent his entire 9-year career with Ottawa but is one of the biggest trade chips ahead of Monday’s deadline. Karlsson has 10 points in his last 11 games while Mark Stone can also lead an upset as he heads the team with 50 points. Even so tonight’s success will rely a lot on G Mike Condon (4-10-4) who is 1-2 with a 3.19 GAA in four career starts against the Blackhawks.
Does Chicago Have Any Motivation Here on Out?
The Blackhawks can’t lose every game the rest of the year – can they? Chicago is facing the reality of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008. The team has played a lot of hockey over that span too including three Stanley Cup wins and two other Conference Finals berths. The Blackhawks have been simply brutal lately however after dropping 9 of their last 10 games. The team hasn’t completely given up as evidenced in a 7-1 win over Washington on Saturday, but that pulse gets fainter and fainter each game.
One thing going for the Blackhawks in the 2/21 NHL free pick is their recent success over Ottawa which includes going 11-4 in the last 15 meetings and 7-1 at the United Center. That streak includes an 8-2 win in Ottawa at the beginning of January in which Patrick Kane had a career high 5 points. Something not going so well for Chicago however is their goaltending issues. Corey Crawford is likely out for the season now with a somewhat mysterious upper body injury. The team waived part-time G Jeff Glass last week and will turn to Anton Forsberg (6-12-3) tonight. Forsberg is just 3-7 over his last 10 starts.
2/21 NHL Free Pick Betting
— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) February 21, 2018
With two struggling goaltenders and two competent offenses meeting up in tonight the ‘over’ of 6 doesn’t look like a bad bet. Over 65% of the public is on Chicago at home with a line of -165, which doesn’t provide a lot of value. The Blackhawks are 1-8 their last 9 home games and 1-10 their last 11 on one days rest. The only pick in this contest with value is Ottawa +145.
Free NHL Pick: Ottawa Senators +145