If the NHL were organized like college football, the Canadian clubs would be the Pac-12 or the American Athletic Conference, or maybe even the Mountain West. They can and do often compete for prestigious titles, but there is a belief that over the long haul, a team like Edmonton or Ottawa is swimming against the stream.
Perhaps that’s one reason why the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers are only slight favorites to beat the Chicago Blackhawks, responsible for the least wins (20) of any club in the Western Conference, when the teams battle at Rogers Place in Edmonton this Tuesday night at 9 PM EST.
Edmonton vs Chicago: The Moneyline (and UK) Odds
BetOnline is giving Edmonton moneyline bettors (-129) on a winning ticket, while the visiting Chicago Blackhawks pay off (+117) or 117/100 on a straight-up win.
The sportsbook’s Over/Under line for the contest is (6.5) total goals.
Oil’s Well That Ends Well?
It’s not that the Oilers are sitting pretty. Connor McDavid’s club is currently in 6th place in the Pacific Division, hoping to make a real run at a Stanley Cup playoff seed over the last 30 games of the season.
There is nothing wrong with the top lines. McDavid is an awesome package of speed, agility, play-making, and stamina, accounting for an amazing 76 points in 51 games. Fellow centerman Leon Draisatil is not far behind with 29 goals and 34 assists on the season. But the cupboard is bare of players who could step into the void if anything happened to the key men up the middle.
Even worse, the Oilers are anything but settled in goal. Mikko Koskonen has out-played Cam Talbot in more or less even starts this season, but played poorly in Sunday’s OT loss to Montreal.
Blackhawks Showing Signs of Life
If the Oilers are on a see-saw, the Blackhawks are emerging from the grave. The club has won 4 games in a row including an 8-5 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
What has caused the sudden upswing? Namely better special teams and a few timely saves. Chicago’s special teams has been awful throughout the first half of the season, but forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Erik Gustafsson scored the tying and winning goals on the man-advantage in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
Patrick Kane and the Hawks’ other marquee stars are excellent, but a team is only as good as its goaltending. The club’s go-to GK Corey Crawford is racked by head injuries, and veteran Cam Ward is just a stopgap.
My Prediction and Best Bet
Shaky goaltending and top-line phenoms on both sides could lead to a high-scoring clash, which is why the O/U is so healthy at almost (7) goals. But I’m liking the Oilers to outlast a streaky Chicago side that has already played its way almost completely out of the Stanley Cup race.
Image from Flickr.