Monday marks the last week of the NHL regular season with postseason (and draft slottings) being locked in each and every night. The April 1st NHL free pick features the Winnipeg Jets in a battle for 1st place in the Central traveling to Chicago where the Blackhawks’ elimination from the postseason is imminent, but not yet official.
Chicago is still a very dangerous team, and perhaps moreso with the pressure of a postseason run off their shoulders. It’s why oddsmakers have made the Jets just -112 favorites on Monday.
Winnipeg Suddenly Faltering
One of the reasons the Jets are a risky wager in the April 1st NHL free pick might not necessarily be because of their opponents – but of themselves. Winnipeg has inexplicably fallen into a tailspin as the regular season winds down, dropping three games in a row, all at home. It’s not like the Jets don’t have anything to play for this late in the year, they are now locked in with the Predators for a tie for 1st in the Central division with both teams having 94 points.
Winnipeg has a top 10 scoring offense in the league powered by Blake Wheeler (89 points) and Patrik Laine (30 goals). That offense has been held to 2 goals or less in 3 of 5 games however. The Chicago defense has been leaking, ranking 30th in the league in goals allowed / game but the Jets are very hit and miss lately. If Winnipeg struggles again on that end, it’s up to Connor Hellebuyck to control a dangerous Chicago offense. Hellebuyck has been in net for all three of Winnipeg’s recent defeats and has given up 11 total goals over that span.
Chicago Offense in a Rut
The Blackhawks fought back admirably in an attempt to make the playoffs after spending time in the Western Conference cellar but it ultimately looks like the team will fall short of that goal. Chicago now sits 6 points back of the 2nd wild card spot with just 4 left in their 2018/19 campaign. Losing 5 of their last 7 games definitely hasn’t helped Jeremy Colliton’s team’s cause. That’s especially true when the last defeat was a 2-3 OT loss to last place LA on Saturday as the ‘Hawks were -134 favorites.
One of the biggest disappointments about Chicago’s late season surge then subsequent collapse is that their offense has gone dormant. Even with 100+ point scorer Patrick Kane on the ice and other players like Jonathan Toews and Alex Debrincat having career scoring years Chicago has been held to 2 goals or less in 7 of the last 8. What still makes Chicago dangerous in the April 1st NHL free pick however is that they haven’t completely folded for the year as evidenced by a 5-4 win in San Jose on Thursday as +175 underdogs.
April 1st NHL Free Pick Betting
The side of this game could go either way with Winnipeg having lost three straight but Chicago just returning from a 3-game West coast trip yet still being at home. The O/U is on the high side for two teams struggling to score goals on a consistent basis. When you throw in Hellebuyck having 2 SO’s in his last six games and Corey Crawford limiting two of the last four opponents to just 1 goal each the total is the play.
NHL Free Pick: Jets / Blackhawks *Under* 6.5