Chicago Blackhawks at Florida Panthers

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The Chicago Blackhawks arrive in South Florida in search of their second consecutive victory when visiting the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Chicago is 14-9-5 with 33 points after defeating the Dallas Stars 4-2. Alex DeBrincat and Carl Soderberg scored on the power play during the second period to help lead the Blackhawks to the victory. Chicago is fourth in the Central Division six points behind first-place Carolina and five points behind both Tampa Bay and Florida.

Florida has won two straight as the Panthers swept a two-game series on the road over the Columbus Blue Jackets winning the first 4-2 and following that with a 5-4 victory in overtime on Thursday. Florida is 17-5-4 with 38 points and tied for second in the Central division with Tampa Bay one point behind first-place Carolina. Florida has won four of the last five. Goalscoring has been the key to Florida’s success as the Panthers are scoring an average of 3.38 goals per game, while the blue line must tighten up a bit as the Panthers are allowing an average of 2.85 goals per game.

Blackhawks need help in goal

Chicago is allowing an average of 3.07 goals-per-game and the Blackhawks penalty-kill unit has been below average with a success rate of only 73.9% when shorthanded. Kevin Lankinen has appeared in goal in 18 games for Chicago and is 10-4-4 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Lankinen has posted one shutout and has allowed 50 goals in 18 appearances. Backup Malcolm Subban is 4-3-1 with a 3.04 goals against average and .907 save percentage. Subban has one shutout and has allowed 25 goals across eight appearances.

At the other end of the ice, the Blackhawks are led by Alex Debrincat in goals scored with 15, while veteran right wing Patrick Kane is second in goals scored with 11 and has team highs in assists with 29 and overall points with 40. The next closest in points to Kane is DeBrincat with 29. Chicago has scored 26 power-play goals led by five off the stick of DeBrincat.

Injury Report: Kirby Dach is out until late May, while Alex Nylander is out until early June and Andre Shaw, Zach Smith, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews are all out indefinitely

Panthers goal scoring is key to success

The Florida Panthers are scoring an average of 3.38 goals per game and that has helped Panthers move into a tie for second place in the Central. Over the last five games played, which have resulted in four victories, Florida has scored 22 goals for an average of 4.40 goals per game. Patric Hornqvist is the leading goal scorer for Florida with 11 and Jonathan Huberdeau is second in goals scored with 10. Huberdeau is leading Florida in assists with 22 and points with 32, while Aleksandar Barkov is second for Florida in assists with 19 and second in points with 22. Florida has scored 21 power-play goals led by Patric Hornqvist with six.

Florida needs to tighten up a bit on its blue line and in goal as the Panthers are allowing an average of 2.85 goals per game. Sergei Bobrovsky is 10-2-2- with a 3.01 goals-against-average and .903 save percentage. Chris Driedger is 7-3-2 with a 2.40 goals-against average in .920 save percentage. Driedger has allowed 29 goals in 12 appearances.

Injury Report: Anton Stralman is questionable for Saturday, while Anthony Duclair is out until late March and Noah Juulsen is out indefinitely

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

Florida is scoring an average of 3.38 goals per game and allowing an average of 2.85 goals per game, but goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has returned from an injury and is 8-2-2 over his last 12 appearances and has lowered his goals against average to 3.01. The Panthers have won four of the last five overall against Chicago and the favorite (FLA) has one 14 of the last 19 meetings between these two rivals. The Blackhawks arrived here off a victory, but Chicago has lost four of the last 5 following a victory, which speaks to a lack of consistency on the part of the Blackhawks on both ends of the ice.

Prediction:
Florida Panthers -155

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

Both Chicago and Florida are scoring an average of more than 3.00 goals-per-game and the goalies for both are allowing an average of over 2.85 goals per game. The total has finished over in five of the last six games played between the two and in each of Chicago’s last four games overall. Not to be outdone, the total has finished over in four Florida’s last five games played with the fifth game being a push.

Prediction:
OVER 6