Florida Panthers will host the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday’s action of the NHL 2021-22. The home side wants to build up on its latest game and stay on the top of the Eastern Conference. The visitors are far from the post-season zone, but they will search for a surprise on the road.
Florida marches to the playoffs, and they have been one of the most dominant NHL teams this season. The hosts want to pick up where they left off and celebrate once again in front of their fans. On the other hand, Chicago has been struggling a lot this season, and they need to improve in the next one to reach the playoffs.
Florida Panthers – Will they remain confident at home?
After losing to the Maple Leafs on the road, the Panthers managed to bounce back and beat the Canadiens 7-4 on the home ice. They were much dominant in that match, while Ryan Lomberg and Jonathan Huberdeau led them to success by scoring a brace and having an assist each. That win helped them stay on the top of the Eastern Conference while being six points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division. Florida is at a 45-15-6 record, and they look forward to improving it after this encounter.
Jonathan Huberdeau enjoys an excellent campaign, producing a total of 93 points for the Panthers, including a team-high 70 assists. Aleksander Barkov is the team’s top scorer with 27 goals while contributing with 66 points. Sam Reinhart managed to reach 63 pts, while Aaron Ekblad has 57. Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe need just one more point to get to the 50-point mark, while Sam Bennett chipped in with 41. On the goal, Sergei Bobrovsky has made the most appearances for the Panthers, having a .914 save percentage and allowing 2.61 goals per match on average.
Expected Line-Up: Sergei Bobrovsky, MacKenzie Weegar, Brandon Montour, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe
with best odds
Chicago Blackhawks – Can they stun the Panthers?
The Blackhawks tied two straight wins on the road, but they head to this match after losing twice in a row. Although they were quite good in the final third, their poor defending cost them a better result again. Buffalo Sabres managed to beat them 6-5 in their most recent encounter, where Kevin Lankinen had a poor .838 save percentage. Chicago is currently 7th in the Central Division with a 24-33-10 record and far from the playoffs zone. They need to improve their roster to be more competitive in the top-four race for the next season.
Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks’ offense with 79 points and tops the assists charts with 58. Alex DeBrincat has produced 64 points, including a team-high 38 goals, while Seth Jones has 45 pts. Dylan Strome has also managed to cross the 40-point mark, while three other players chipped in with 20+ pts. On the other hand, Chicago’s first-choice goalie Marc-Andre Fleury joined Minnesota Wild in the midseason trade, and now Kevin Lankinen spends most of the time between the pipes. However, he should be more successful, as he allows 3.63 goals per contest, with a poor .886 save percentage.
Expected Line-Up: Kevin Lankinen, Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome
Expert Pick #1 – Florida Panthers -1.5 @-145
The Panthers are firm favorites in this one, and I don’t believe they will let the Blackhawks jeopardize their chances of securing the pole position in the Eastern Conference. They should win by at least two goals, and I’ll back that as my first pick.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 7 @+100
Although the margin is a bit high here, the plus money odds seem very attractive. Chicago has been very leaky in the back, and their new first-choice goalie hasn’t been very successful. On the other hand, Florida is among the best offensive teams in the NHL, and I’ll go with a goal galore for the second bet.
Expert Pick #3 – Panthers to win & Both Teams Over 1.5 @+122
Despite having many troubles in defense, the Blackhawks have done a pretty good job in the final third. I believe they can score at least twice in this match, but Florida should celebrate a victory. That’s going to be my third pick, and if successful, it can bring us nice profits.