The Blackhawks are going to miss the postseason for the first time since 2008. They’ve got three Stanley Cups to cry in however which brings up a good question – how does Chicago respond to their first meaningless games in 10 years? According to oddsmakers, they tank as Colorado is a -121 favorite at the United Center tonight. It would be very easy to take the Avalanche as they try and improve their 6th seed position in the Western Conference playoff race. Then again, you have to think the 3X winners of the Stanley Cup in the past 10 years have to be playing with some pride at this point of the season.
Is Colorado Serious Stanley Cup Contenders?
Without putting the cart ahead of the horse, Colorado has a real chance at a deep postseason run – if they make the playoffs that is. The Avalanche are playing great, scoring at least one point in 10 of their last 11 games. The Blackhawks can be eliminated as early as tonight with a loss and Colorado would love nothing more than to do that to the team that has tormented the West for the better part of a decade. The 3/20 NHL free pick is definitely more of a must-win for Colorado as the Kings, Ducks, Stars, and Blues are all within a few points of in the postseason or out.
The Avalanche are playing great at the right time of year, having won four of their last five with three losses prior all coming in OT. Scoring has definitely been a strong point as Colorado has tallied 21 goals in the last five games behind their #8 scoring offense in the NHL. Putting the biscuit in the basket could continue again tonight against Chicago’s absolutely putrid defense that has allowed 24 goals in the last five games. Colorado is barely under .500 on the road this season, but the United Center is no longer intimidating as the Hawks are only 17-15-4 on their own ice this year.
Can Chicago Stop…Anybody?
There’s nobody that made more money by doing less this year than Chicago’s normal starting goaltender Corey Crawford. That’s not just because Crawford has been out since before Christmas with vertigo / upper body issues – it’s because the ‘Hawks have been so bad in his absence. Jeff Glass enjoyed a cup of coffee in net before being sent back to the minors while some guy named Jean-Francois Berube has 2-4-1 since his callup. In net tonight is Anton Forsberg (9-15-3) who is 4-5 in his last 9 decisions. Forsberg should be rested after not playing since Thursday night against Winnipeg. Then again he can’t be the most confident though after allowing 3 goals on 6 shots in 9 minutes on ice the last time out versus the Jets.
The Blackhawks defense is easy to bet against – but their offense still includes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and breakout star Alex Debrincat. The Blackhawks have scored 16 goals over their last 5 games, but their goaltending is so bad that the team is just 1-3-1 over that span. Colorado puts Semyon Varlamov (21-14-6) in net tonight and he’s 3-1 his last four. Over Varlamov’s last four starts, three times he’s held opponents to one goal which could have Chicago in trouble in the 3/20 NHL free pick.
3/20 NHL Free Pick Betting
To be honest, there’s good value in either team that you select tonight. Colorado needs a win in regards to postseason positioning but Chicago is on their home ice where they’re always worth a wager. The Avalanche have found their offense with 21 goals over the last five games. Chicago has been a sieve on defense and is playing in the proverbial ‘tank’ situation for a better lottery pick. In a toss up game with value on both sides, you take the better unit.
Free Pick: Colorado Avalanche: -121