Chicago gave it a good run, coming back from a horrible early season to bring themselves for a split second in the 2nd spot of the wild card. The Blackhawks have just been too inconsistent over the past month and now find themselves with very thin postseason hopes, 6 points back with 8 games to play. The team Chicago is playing in the March 24th NHL free pick is the team they are chasing as they host the Colorado Avalanche. These teams meet up for the second time in as many days with the Hawks -115 favorites on the back end of the home and home.
Avalanche in Must-Win For the Foreseeable Future
Colorado is a +104 underdog on paper which seems like solid value considering the Avs have a four game win streak going and have much more to play for. Colorado has climbed into the 2nd wild card spot, but both Arizona and Minnesota are just a point back. There are some things going against the Avs in the March 24th NHL free pick however. First off they have to head back to the United Center although Chicago has dropped two in a row. The biggest adversity facing Colorado Sunday is that they will be missing Gabriel Landeskog for the 8th straight game but that he’s also joined by Mikko Rantanen for the 2nd straight contest.
The Avs did play well vs. Chicago Saturday even without Rantanen on the ice. Eight Avalanche players recorded points and they got the victory despite leading scorer Nathan Mackinnon being held without a point. It was the first time Colorado broke 3 goals scored in 8 games, and they’ve also been shut out twice over that span. The Avs used Phillip Grubauer to get the W on Saturday, but will turn to Semyon Varlamov in the back end of the home and home. Varlamov is 1-3 in March, allowing at least 3 games in each.
Blackhawks Turning to Crawford in Consecutive Days
Colorado is going with their backup in net for the March 24th NHL free pick but Chicago doesn’t have that luxury. Jeremy Colliton plans to go with Corey Crawford even on back-to-back days until Chicago is officially eliminated from playoff contention. Crawford is by far Chicago’s best option in net as he has a .938 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA the last 8 games. 2 of the 3 goals Crawford gave up yesterday were on deflections and their 4th came on an empty net.
Sunday’s O/U is 6.5 but the truth is the ‘Hawks offense has been sputtering lately. Chicago has dropped three straight, and they’ve been held to 2 goals or less in four straight contests. After an incredibly hot run, Patrick Kane has now been held without a goal for five consecutive outings. Erik Gustafsson does have a score in three in a row but overall the Hawks just don’t look the same over the past 8 days. One of Chicago’s losses was a 2-3 OT defeat at home to Vancouver even though the Blackhawks were -246 favorites.
March 24th NHL Free Pick Betting
Even though Chicago is in a “must win” until mathematically eliminated from the postseason, that’s the situation they’ve been in for the past week and they’ve dropped 3 in a row. The Hawks offense is in the tank, their goaltender is starting on back-to-back days, and the Colorado offense found some secondary scoring options yesterday vs. the Blackhawks defense.
NHL Free Pick: Colorado Avalanche +104