The Chicago Blackhawks and the Colorado Avalanche meet in NHL action from the Ball Arena on Wednesday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks come into this season looking to re-establish themselves among the top teams in the Central division after finishing 6th in 2021 with a 24-25-7 mark, missing the postseason for the 3rd time in the last 4 years. Patrick Kane is back after leading the Blackhawks with 66 points and 51 assists last season as is top goal scorer Alex DeBrincat who had 32 goals as part of his 56 point campaign last year. Dominik Kubalik is the only other double-digit goal scorer returning from last year’s team, but the Blackhawks will get a lift from the return of Jonathan Toews as the team captain makes his return to the lineup after missing the entire season due to an illness. The goaltending also took a step in the right direction when the Blackhawks acquired Marc-Andre Fleury, and the interesting caveat that comes with that is that Fleury has yet to miss the playoffs as a professional in the NHL.
The Colorado Avalanche will come into the season hoping to make some noise after falling short in 2021, winning the West division and the President’s trophy with a record of 39-13-4, but the success didn’t translate to the postseason as Colorado was bounced in the second round by Vegas in six games. The top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog is all back after combining for 70 goals and 183 points while other key cogs like Andre Burakovsky and Cale Makar are also back in the fold as well. The big departure from the back end for Colorado, is goaltender Philipp Grubauer who was a Vezina trophy finalist last year, but was ultimately selected in the expansion draft by the Seattle Kraken, leaving goaltending duties to Pavel Francouz and Darcy Kuemper.
Chicago is 2-7 in their last 9 games overall and 4-9 in their last 13 road games while the over is 7-1 in their last 8 games as an underdog. Colorado is 19-7 in their last 26 Wednesday games and 38-15 in their last 53 home games while the over is 6-2 in their last 8 Wednesday games.
The Colorado Avalanche are going to be a trendy pick to win the cup for many bettors this season, and for good reason as the top line of MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen is simply deadly. However, MacKinnon will be out for the opener and I think the Avs let the wrong goaltender go when Philipp Grubauer was selected by the Kraken. The Hawks getting Toews back is a big lift and I think it could help the Blackhawks in Wednesday’s opener. I’ll take a shot with the Blackhawks and the plus money here.