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NHL Free Pick: Blackhawks vs. Wild Betting Odds & Handicapping Preview

NHL Lines: Chicago vs Minnesota Pick

Central Division opponents will face off on Thursday night when the Chicago Blackhawks (26-12-2) take on the Minnesota Wild (18-15-5). Cappers Picks will provide free NHL picks all season so check back often.

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Chicago vs Minnesota
When: Thursday Jan. 8 at 8:00 pm EST
Where: Xcel Energy Center
TV: Local
NHL Gambling Line: Minnesota +131/Chicago -145
NHL Gambling Over Under Line: 5.5 
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Chicago lost their hold on top spot in the Central after a loss to the Avalanche and will look to retake top spot with another game against a Central Division rival.

The Wild have stumbled out of the Christmas break and are 2-4-4 over their last 10 games and are falling fast out of playoff contention in the West.

Chicago

Let me start off by saying this team could be the best team in the NHL, operative word here is could though many people may argue that they should be the best team in the league or already are.

It’s hard to argue with the talent on this team; players like Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Saad, Keith and Seabrook, it’s hard to find fault in this team that is ridiculously stacked and deep.

Sorry Hawks fans but I’ve got to rain on your parade here, Corey Crawford is holding this team back. Crawford is a flat out bad goalie and for those who argue otherwise, when was the last time Crawford stole a game for this team?

He wins games because the team in front of him is super talented and can mask his deficiencies by either not allowing shots or just outscoring Crawford’s sub-par play.

Since returning from injury Crawford has posted a 3.13 GAA and .885 SV%. That’s horrible, yet the Hawks have managed to go 3-4 in that seven game span, twice winning when Crawford gave up four goals.

Chicago could be running away with the Western Conference if Crawford could learn to stop a puck once in a while and it has to be wearing on the psyche of the Blackhawks who frequently outshoot teams by a 2:1 margin and find themselves in close games that shouldn’t be close.

Minnesota

There’s something wrong in Minnesota right now as this team seems to have lost its way. Darcy Kuemper is coming back to earth in between the pipes for the Wild and the result has not been pretty.

Minnesota is not unlike Chicago in that they boast a wealth of talent up front with the likes of Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu and Tomas Vanek. On the back end they’re anchored by one of the best horses in the game with Ryan Suter, but somehow the team isn’t getting results.

The Wild were beaten on home ice by the Sharks in OT in a bit of a wacky game where the Wild jumped out to a 2-0 lead before watching San Jose bounce back for three straight to take a 3-2 lead into the late stages.

Jason Zucker tied it for the Wild with about eight minutes remaining to salvage a point but the Wild were still downed in OT.

Blackhawks vs. Wild 4* Free Pick

Goaltending wins this one, which side gets the better goaltending however is anyone’s guess. It looks like Chicago will go back with Crawford on the front end of back to back (look for Antii Raanta to get the start tomorrow). Niklas Backstrom will give Kuemper the night off tonight for Minnesota.

Take Chicago, but don’t trust Crawford.

Chicago is the better team here and if Crawford can find a way to allow just one goal for a change then the Blackhawks should march to victory.

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About Matt Durnan

A (self-proclaimed) fantasy sports guru since 2004 and a journalist since 2007. He has been offering unsolicited sports gambling advice to his circle of friends for years and has now put himself at the mercy of online readers everywhere. "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how much fun you have"... His hockey coach told him that when he was 7. His team lost every game that year.


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