The line seems a bit off in the March 2nd NHL free pick between two teams that have different expectations for the rest of the season. Chicago has climbed into the postseason hunt but they’ve still got a lot of work to do as their 63 points are five off the wild card pace. LA has just 54 points, which is only 5 above the last place Senators meaning the Kings are in striking distance of a top draft pick. Even so, LA is just a +110 underdog on Saturday.
Chicago Is In Must-Win From Here on Out
The Blackhawks postseason hopes may be dim with only 18 games left in the regular season, but they’re not throwing in the towel yet. This is evident because instead of shutting down G Corey Crawford for the year, he was activated and made his first start in over two months on Wednesday. Crawford got the win in the 4-3 victory over Anaheim stopping 29 of 32 shots. Just knocking out the rust has to be huge for Crawford and the Hawks defense as they prep for Los Angeles in the March 2nd NHL free pick.
The Hawks are always a concern at today’s line of -132 mostly because their defense is ranked 30th in goals/allowed and SOG and dead last in the penalty kill. One of the main reasons Chicago is 11-4 in their last 15 overall however is because their offense is so potent. The Blackhawks have scored 3+ goals in 9 of their last 10 and Chicago is also 5-1 their last 6 on the road. Patrick Kane got back in the point column vs. Anaheim after his streak of 20 games was snapped vs. Dallas last Sunday. Kane, Alex Debrincat, Jonathan Toews and company should do some scoring vs. an LA team that has given up 20 goals the last four games.
How Motivated are Kings on Saturday?
Los Angeles is out of the playoff hunt and they’re playing like it, going 0-6-4 over the last 10. LA is back home in the March 2nd NHL free pick, but they’ve dropped four straight at the Staples Center and are only 12-15-2 on their own ice this season. Believe it or not, the O/U of 6 almost seems low for Saturday as the Kings have given up at least 4 goals in 8 of their last 10. Jonathan Quick is in net vs. Chicago but he’s been struggling lately, allowing 16 goals the last three games. He’s not facing a lot of SOG either, as two of those games were 23 shots or less.
If Chicago’s defense is a liability, can the Kings offense capitalize? LA has been held to 2 goals or less in five of the last 7 games and is 29th or worse in goals, SOG, and power play. Anze Kopitar did have 2 goals Thursday vs. Dallas and Drew Doughty added an assist but overall it’s been few and far between for the Kings offense.
March 2nd NHL Free Pick Betting
There’s solid value on Chicago at -132. Overall the Blackhawks defense is a little shaky but Crawford looked formidable in net on Wednesday and should be even better in his 2nd game back between the pipes. Plus, the Kings offense doesn’t pose much of a threat. Chicago skaters will be able to exploit Quick, who has been off the last three games.
NHL Free Pick: Chicago Blackhawks -132