It's a Western Conference battle of two teams at the bottom of the standings as the Anaheim Ducks visit the Chicago Blackhawks. Just because the teams aren't having good seasons doesn't mean there aren't betting angles to exploit. It is time to continue our NHL odds series with a Bruins-Stars prediction, pick, and how-to-watch.
The Ducks have lost nine of its past ten games, with their only win coming in a miraculous shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Frank Vatrano has been the lone bright spot for the Ducks this season, boasting 14 goals and nine assists through 25 games. Vatrano is a guy the Ducks expected to be a depth player for them, but his play should help the Ducks fetch a good return for his services at the trade deadline. Rookies Leo Carlsson and Pavel Mintyukov have also looked good in their first seasons but aren't ready to take on the burden of getting the Ducks out of the basement of the league's standings.
The Blackhawks are in the middle of a four-game losing streak at the hands of the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Winnipeg Jets, and Minnesota Wild. The first three losses came by a combined nine goals, but the Blackhawks kept it closer on Tuesday night with a shootout loss to Nashville. Despite the Blackhawks' struggles on and off the ice, Connor Bedard has been the player many expected him to be. He is leading the team with 20 points through 24 games. The next closest is Jason Dickinson, with 13.
Here are the NHL Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
NHL Odds: Ducks-Blackhawks Odds
Anaheim Ducks: -1.5 (+190) ML (-118)
Chicago Blackhawks: +1.5 (-235) ML (-102)
Over: 6.5 (-102)
Under: 6.5 (-120)
How to Watch Ducks vs. Blackhawks
Time: 8 PM ET/5 PM PT
TV: NBCSCH, Bally Sports
Stream: FuboTV (Click for free trial)
Why The Ducks Will Cover The Spread/Win
The Blackhawks have been near the bottom of the pack since this season started. They have looked even more lost since terminating veteran Corey Perry's contract. They score only 2.46 goals per game, and rookie Connor Bedard has been shouldering the load. Bedard will one day be among the leaders in the NHL, but the 18-year-old shouldn't be relied upon to lead the team already. Only three skaters on the roster have scored more than five goals.
The more concerning stat for the Blackhawks and the area where Connor Bedard won't save them is their team defense. They are allowing 3.67 goals per game and have allowed 16 over their past four games. Both of their goalies have sub-.900 save percentages, and neither looks capable of leading a team to victory. On a side note, Mrazek can come out of nowhere and steal a win. However, with the defense the Blackhawks put in front of him and a lack of scoring help, even Mrazek's magic doesn't look likely in this one.
Why The Blackhawks Will Cover The Spread/Win
The Ducks' offense has been struggling, scoring only 2.72 goals per game and only 22 in their last ten. Apart from their top trio of Frank Vatrano, Ryan Strome, and Mason McTavish, the Ducks are getting minimal offensive production. The Ducks defense has also unraveled over their last ten games, allowing 44 goals. They have been leaving their goaltender, John Gibson, out to dry, and it may be a matter of time before they trade Gibson to maximize his value and turn to Lukas Dostal. The Ducks have flown south quickly, and the Blackhawks have an opportunity to get back on track.
Final Ducks-Blackhawks Prediction & Pick
Both teams may already be looking ahead to landing a top-two pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft to select Macklin Celebrini or Cole Eiserman. They have the league's worst records over their past ten games by a wide margin. Neither of the team's goalies are playing well, but the slight edge has to be given to John Gibson. Gibson has a .906 save percentage despite having a 5-11-0 record. The Blackhawks had won eight straight games going into the teams' February matchups last season, but the Ducks won both games. The Blackhawks were in full-tank mode during those games, so the results are hard to judge. However, the Blackhawks may be already slipping back into that mode.
Petr Mrazek and Arvid Soderblom have been alternating games as of late, with neither being able to pick up a win since Mrazek's 4-3 win over Seattle on November 28th. Mrazek will likely get the start on Thursday night, and he has dropped his last two games, allowing nine goals on 63 shots. The Ducks don't have an elite offense, but they have more depth than the Blackhawks and better goaltending. At a certain point, they will gather their pride and put forth a better effort to break out of their recent skid. There is no better time to do it than against a team that may be in an even worse state of mind. Take the Ducks to win an ugly game on Thursday night.
Final Ducks-Blackhawks Prediction & Pick: Ducks ML (-118)