The only game on the docket for Wednesday night in the National Hockey League sees the 6-3-3 Chicago Blackhawks going on the road to face the 7-6-0 Vancouver Canucks. The Blackhawks have been great on the road this season (3-1-1) which is a major reason why they are listed as -130 favorites in the October 31st NHL free pick. Chicago has dropped two in a row however and 3 of their last 5 overall. Meanwhile Vancouver will play in their 3rd of a 4 game home stand. Is the real value on the Canucks +110 tonight – or is there a reason the Blackhawks are road favorites?
Chicago Gets Crawford Back In Net Tonight
The Blackhawks feel almost like a Stanley Cup contender when they’ve got starter Corey Crawford back in net. Yes Crawford’s 3-2 record and .919 save percentage don’t exactly flash off the page but you have to remember this is a guy who played in just 28 games last year because of various upper body ailments. Crawford posted 3 straight wins with just 1 goal allowed in each contest before having a rough outing last time out. On Saturday night the goaltender allowed 6 goals on 42 shots in a 3-7 loss to the Blues. Do we see a bounce back in the October 31st NHL free pick or was that game a sign of something in Chicago’s net?
Goaltender isn’t the only question for Chicago on Wednesday night as NHL leading goal scorer Patrick Kane is listed as questionable with an illness. With Kane in the lineup the Blackhawks have a top 10 offense in both SOG (34.2) and goals per game (3.4). Being full strength would be big for Chicago as Vancouver’s defense has allowed 4+ goals in 3 of their last 5. Even without Kane, Chicago can put up some offense evidenced by Alex Debrincat’s 8 goals and 6 from Jonathan Toews. Tonight’s total is the standard 5.5 however.
Does Home Ice Give Vancouver an Edge Tonight?
The Blackhawks haven’t played since Sunday and Vancouver has been at home for nearly a week so home ice could be a moot point tonight. That plays a major factor in why oddsmakers have listed Chicago as -130 favorites in the October 31st NHL free pick. The Canucks haven’t played bad at the Rogers Arena, racing out to a 3-2 record at home on this young season. Bo Horvat leads Vancouver with 7 goals. It’s very obvious they are a team that struggles to put the puck in the net, ranking 25th in the NHL in goals and 29th in SOG. A healthy Elias Pettersson on the ice tonight could change that. The 2017 #5 overall pick has 7 goals this year but has played just 7 games due to being in concussion protocol.
Another thing Canucks coach Travis Green would like to see sooner rather than later is some more consistency from starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. In the last 6 games, Markstrom has three outings of 5+ goals allowed – but allowed just 5 goals total in the other three. To be fair, he’s faced a lot of shots with four games of 35 saves over that span. The Canucks are 22nds in the NHL in shots against, which doesn’t bode well against a Chicago team that is 5th in the NHL in SOG.
October 31st NHL Free Pick Betting
Bettors are split nearly 50/50 on tonight’s contest. Both teams are fresh but it’s a no-brainer that the Blackhawks will miss Kane tonight if he can’t go. With a contest in Edmonton tomorrow and another in Calgary on Saturday it’s possible Kane could be a scratch. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom has given up a lot of goals, but if his defense can limit Chicago’s opportunities for once he should be alright. With Crawford having such a poor outing last game it’s hard to back the Blackhawks on the road in this one.
NHL Free Pick: Vancouver Canucks +110