Western Conference heavyweights hit Canada
With mere weeks left in the regular season, Ottawa’s staking a serious claim for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. But will Guy Boucher’s club manage to slow down the hottest player on ice shortly?
Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks head north of the border tonight, with a 7:30 p.m. ET opening draw at Canadian Tire Centre. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Joel Quenneville’s troops odds of -140 to emerge victorious. The Senators, on the other hand, represent +120 underdogs.
Having gone 6-0-1 in March, Ottawa now trails first-place Montreal by one point. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a group that wallowed near the basement a year ago, and the organization should thank all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson for fronting the charge. In addition to boasting more blocked shots than anyone else in the league, the native of Sweden has amassed 13 goals and 49 assists through 68 games.
Alas, even Karlsson can’t quite measure up to Kane. The reigning Hart Trophy winner’s three-point effort in Tuesday’s 4-2 triumph against the Canadiens vaulted him into a tie for the NHL scoring lead. He’s potted a whopping 11 tallies over Chicago’s past nine contests.
With captain Jonathan Toews elevating his performance, too, the Hawks once again look impenetrable entering the stretch run. Sens netminder Mike Condon is in the midst of a very fine campaign, though, and won’t be intimidated this evening. Temper those offensive expectations accordingly.
THURSDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLACKHAWKS/SENATORS UNDER 5.5 GOALS