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Posted at 11:00 AM EST.
1:00 PM EST. Regulation only. The NHL's annual showcase heads to South Bend, Indiana for the first time, as we have the "home" side Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Boston Bruins. Both of these teams are no strangers to these outdoor games, as this will the be 'Hawks fourth appearance, while it will be the B's third. As these are two of the most storied and popular franchises in the league, it's easy to understand why they'd get the call again here, but after years of promoting the Winter Classic, we have to wonder why the NHL continues to try and go head-to-head with arguably the most significant day on the college football calendar. Seriously, how many eyes does the NHL lose by not having this game on a less high profile day on the holiday calendar?
On the ice, we all know the drill at this point, as these games are often ugly on the ice. The wide shot of a full Notre Dame Stadium will look great on television and if the snow falls, that will be a bonus for the cameras too. However, on the ice is where this showcase struggles. For the Blackhawks, they need this distraction like a hole in the head after a brutal start to the season. Chicago has seen an uptick in victories after ripping off five Ws in its last six games, but it has been on the back of rookie goaltender Collin Delia, who has won his first three starts this season, including the 'Hawks 3-2 overtime win in Colorado on Saturday. However, interim coach Jeremy Colliton will turn to Cam Ward in what appears to be a bit of a lifetime achievement award, as Ward has never played in a game like this after rotting for years in Carolina.
It is because of Ward that we are looking to attack Chicago in South Bend. Of the 83 goaltenders that have suited up so far in 2018-19, Cam Ward might be the worst, especially of those that have made double-digit starts, as he's 67th with a .866 Save % and 72 in goals-against average (3.90). Ward absolutely does not give Chicago the best chance to win here, but the coach is going with him because, like an honouree All-Star, Ward has paid his dues and has earned the right to start over a rookie. What a great opportunity for us to capitalize on what we’re suggesting is a gift. Not only is Ward pure garbage but the perspective from a goaltending standpoint is completely different too. The Blackhawks, 0-3 in Winter Classics, are doing the Bruins a big favor here by starting Ward while the business-like Bruins will treat it as just another important two points. Fade Ward is the call.
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Boston -½ +102 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.04)