One team in the April 3rd NHL free pick has significantly less to play for as the Blackhawks were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday night. it was a formality, especially as a 4-3-3 run over their last 10 dropped Chicago to 8 points behind the Avalanche for the 2nd wild card. It will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks perform in their first official meaningless game against a Blues team that is streaking positive and has run to just 2 points behind Winnipeg for 1st in the Central.
Blues Can Move Into 1st With a Win
With both Winnipeg and Nashville idle on Wednesday, St. Louis can pull into a percentage points lead for the division with a win at Chicago. That adds an extra level of excitement for a Blues team that is on a roll anyways, going 7-2-1 over their last 10 including victories in 6 of 7. Of course division rival Chicago would love to play the spoiler for St. Louis which makes them a bit amped up even though the game is now meaningless for the Blackhawks who were just eliminated from wild card contention on Tuesday. Oddsmakers have made the Blues significant -156 favorites nonetheless.
One good thing Chicago does do is miss G Jordan Binnington who had gone 6-1 over his last 7 starts. Instead it will be Jake Allen in net, which significantly changes the O/U play of 6. Allen made just six starts in March, but went 2-2-1 and had a SO in LA. Vladimir Tarasenko staying hot will definitely help Allen in this one. The star RW has 23 points in his last 18 games and St. Louis has scored at least 3 goals in 8 of 9.
Chicago Have Inexplicable Confidence in this One?
Beliieve it or not the Blackhawks might actually have some value in the April 3rd NHL free pick at +135. Granted they are just 17-14-7 at the United Center this year, but are 3-1 vs. the Blues this year including two wins in OT. One team that has played good in the Windy City is St. Louis, who is 6-3-1 in their last 10 trips to Chicago. The Blackhawks have dropped 6 of 8 overall lately, including the last two in OT, 2-3 at LA and 3-4 vs. Winnipeg.
The Hawks offense can be potent with 105 point scorer Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat who is 6th in the league in goals with 41. That being said Chicago has been held to 2 goals or less in 7 of 9. That offense will have to be good Wednesday vs. St. Louis as Cam Ward gets the nod ahead of Corey Crawford between the pipes. Ward has allowed at least 4 goals in five straight starts and has only started once in March as Chicago went with Crawford in must-win situations every game.
April 3rd NHL Free Pick Betting
Chicago being eliminated Tuesday and thus going to Ward in net switches this total play. The ‘under’ had looked good in Binnington vs. Crawford, but you have to think both offense get going vs. backups between the pipes.
NHL Free Pick: St. Louis / Chicago *Over* 6