Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:30 PM EST.
8:35 PM EST. Regulation only. If the season ended today, the Avs would be in the playoffs, which is somewhat remarkable when you consider where this team was last year. One very popular publication wrote this about the Avs in their season preview:
“When you're the worst team in the league by a wide margin, the best course of action is to do very little in the offseason. No? Well, that's exactly what the Avalanche did, leading many to wonder what really is going on in the Mile High City”.
That publication wasn’t entirely wrong. The results are good for the Avalanche but the under the hood numbers scream out that the Avs are complete imposters. The luck driven stats are what is fueling this team, as they rank first in penalty killing percentage, fourth in power-play % and 3rd in PDO (save % + shooting %). We cannot overstate how fortunate the Avs are to be top four in all three luck driven stats. Montreal rode a similar wave for a couple of years but as soon as the luck driven numbers normalized, Montreal sank fast and hard.
Colorado’s shooting percentage has off the charts during their current hot run of picking up points in 12 of its last 14 games. In Score and Venue Adjusted Corsi For % over that span, Colorado ranks 29th in the league, ahead of only Buffalo and the New York Rangers. They are winning a lot of games without the puck these days. Defensively it’s even worse, as Colorado ranks 29th over those same 14 games in 5-on-5 Score and Venue Adjusted Corsi Against/60. That puts them ahead of only the Rangers and Senators over that span. In xGF/60 and xGA/60 over the past five weeks during 5-on-5 play, Colorado ranks 29th and 25th respectively. While we respect the Avs for their heart and determination, something that cannot be measured with analytics, they are very simply a one-line show that should not be difficult to beat. Remember, with the same team last year, they had the worst record in the NHL with 22 wins in 82 games.
Chicago is the polar opposite of Colorado. They deserve to be a playoff team because they dominate frequently and lose. Chicago’s number one problem is a lack of quality goaltending, which is something we’ll have to love with here and hope it holds up. Over the past five weeks. Chicago ranks 6th in Corsi For % during 5v5 play. There has been at least two times this season that the Blackhawks ranked first in time of possession in the opponents end for a 30-day stretch. The Blackhawks have very simply received no puck luck this season but there is no question that this is a very winnable game. Chicago is not going to the playoffs. It’s been a very long time since these players on Chicago are playing meaningless games in March and for most of them, it’s the very first time they’re playing meaningless games in March. One might assume or think that there’s a chance that the Blackhawks just want this season to end already and that might be true but the Blackhawks still have some unfinished business to attend to. With a highly frustrating season nearly behind them, Chicago has the opportunity to take their frustrations out on a much weaker team that is likely going to the playoffs. Players don’t like when an inferior team is playoff bound when they’re not. Colorado still has to win some games to lock that spot up and nothing is more satisfying to a team not going to the playoffs than making life miserable for a team fighting to get in. That the Avs are favored here will not sit well with Chicago’s players and trust us when we tell you that every player knows the betting line. That the Avs are favored on the road at the Madhouse is preposterous.
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CHICAGO +105 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.10)