NHL Hockey Betting: Chicago Blackhawks vs Philadelphia Flyers

The NHL season is underway and this is one of the best times of the year to bet on hockey. This is due to a confluence of factors not the least of which is that your friendly neighborhood bookmaker is busy with college and pro football. Setting solid NHL betting odds are something of an afterthought at this point. I’m writing this on Thursday night and I can guarantee that linesmakers were much more focused on the Seattle/LA Rams NFL game than the 9:05 start time NHL game between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche.


Another factor–and perhaps a more significant one–is the public’s ‘selective memory’. The public isn’t particularly good in assessing qualitative changes in a team’s makeup during the offseason regardless of the sport. You see two distinct tendencies repeated in early season betting–either the public perception is based on last year’s team or else it’s based on overly positive (or negative) expectations. A perfect example of the latter was the Los Angeles Lakers heading into last NBA season–the expectation was that they’d challenge for the championship but ended up not making the playoffs.

Hockey is an especially good sport for taking advantage of public (mis)perception. This reality is a great segue-way into Friday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. The average ‘man on the street’ perception of the Blackhawks’ 2018-2019 season will be their struggles early on and the firing of legendary head coach Joel Quenneville just 15 games in. For whatever reason, the public must have completely tuned out at this point.

What the ‘public’ missed was a pretty impressive turnaround under 34 year old head coach Jeremy Colliton. The team soon found traction and would play reasonably well the rest of the season. They would finish with 84 points which left them just short of the playoffs. In the first full season under Colliton there’s every reason to expect that they’ll show even more improvement.

The Blackhawks never had a problem scoring goals. They finished with a 3.26 goals per game average ranking #8 in the league. Their big problem last year was defense as they allowed 3.55 goals per game–only the Ottawa Senators allowed more. In response, the Blackhawks did what top level organizations do in the off season–they addressed their needs. Chicago upgraded their defensive corps with free agent signees Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan. Neither player’s signing would have been considered ‘big news’ but both are solid NHL defensemen.

All of a sudden, the Blackhawks defense doesn’t look half bad. In the preseason they paired their two aging blueline superstars Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook with a younger partner–Erik Gustafsson and Olli Maata respectively. They also paired 25 year old Slater Koekkoek–the 10th pick overall in the 2012 draft that was never able to break into the defesnive rotation in Tampa Bay–with Calvin de Haan. They’ve also got a highly touted 19 year old named Adam Boqvist who was the 8th pick overall and was impressive in training camp to the point that many thought he might stick with the team. Instead, he’s right down the road playing for the AHL Rockford Ice Hogs. Chicago also solidified their goaltending bringing in Vezina Trophy Finalist Robin Lehner to backup and/or split time with Corey Crawford.

Chicago’s offense will be as potent as ever. Alex DeBrincat finished with 76 points last season, Jonathan Toews finished with 81 last season and Patrick Kane put up 110. This also means that their opening game is a very bad tactical matchup for Philadelphia. Alain Vigneault’s teams like to push the pace offensively but the Blackhawks’ have the talent to beat Philly at their own game. Chicago has the more talented, more well rounded team with more depth. Look for the Hawks to get the 2019-2020 season off to a winning start in a high scoring game.


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