The Blackhawks have been in some hard fought contests lately but they haven’t really correlated to wins. Even so, the team is playing better than their 3-4-3 record over the last 10 would indicate. The Rangers are in a similar rut, going 2-6 over their last 8. Is the home ice advantage enough to decide the January 17th NHL free pick for New York? After all, despite their recent woes the Rangers are listed at -125 for Thursday night’s contest.
Chicago Good Enough For OT, But Not Wins
Playoff hopes are probably out the window for the 2018/19 Blackhawks team but what is frustrating fans lately is that this team is so close to a turnaround. Since New Year’s Day Chicago has dropped OT contests to the Islanders, Golden Knights, and Predators while notching a 5-3 win in Pittsburgh. Chicago’s latest outing wasn’t the best, a 5-8 loss to the Devils but at least they showed offensive prowess? Patrick Kane’s 4 point night vs. the Devils now gives him 13 in the last 5 games. Together with Alex Debrincat (5 goals, 5 games) Chicago can give a struggling Rangers defense fits tonight.
After allowing 8 goals the previous game (one empty netter) it’s obvious Chicago has work to do on defense in the January 17th NHL free pick. The Rangers are hot with 11 goals in their last two games, but overall this is an offense that has been held to 2 goals or less in 6 of 9. Collin Delia is the probable starter in net after Cam Ward’s disastrous outing Monday (6 GA on 25 shots). Delia is 3-1-3 this season, going to OT in three of his last four starts. He’s got a 47 save outing over that span but has given up at least 3+ goals in four straight starts.
Rangers Hoping Home Ice Gets It Done
The Rangers are in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, hoping to get started on a run to make up the 7 points that separates them from playoff contention. Beating Carolina 6-2 Tuesday as +130 home underdogs was a nice start, as was the 2-1 win at the Islanders two games prior with a Rangers line of +171. The Rangers have defended home ice nicely this season with a 12-6-3 record at the Garden. The thing is, they’ve only played at home three times in the last 10 games.
The Rangers should be able to find some holes in the Chicago defense. Mika Zibanejad continued his recent strong offensive play with 4 points vs. the Hurricanes. Mats Zuccarello had 3 helpers vs. Carolina which gives him 6 points in 3 games. The more scoring the merrier ahead of Henrik Lundqvist in net. The veteran goaltender has hit a little rough spot with three losses in his last four starts. Over that span he’s given up 17 goals which makes the Blackhawks skaters eyes get a little bigger.
January 17th NHL Free Pick Betting
The Rangers have the advantage of being at home Thursday although Chicago does like their chances a little better with Delia in net. Patrick Kane is on an incredible tear lately and he should amp things up even more playing at Madison Square Garden. Chicago has had close calls with some of the elite teams in the league, losing by one goal to Nashville, Calgary, and Vegas in three consecutive games. Those contests were at home however. No matter how great Kane has been, he can’t make up for the Swiss cheese defense in the crease.
NHL Free Pick: New York Rangers -125