Chicago Blackhawks (44-22-6) at Philadelphia Flyers (29-29-16)
|Date & Time||Wednesday March 25, 2015, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Philadelphia Flyers +127 / Chicago Blackhawks -140 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
It wasn’t the prettiest effort for the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night, but the play of Corey Crawford helped them avoid their second consecutive loss. Chicago got off to a quick start in this one, getting goals from Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp in the opening period, but this game would not be as easy as it looked at first. Shaw’s 11th goal of the season and Sharp’s 13th put the Blackhawks up by two early on, but the rest of the night belonged to the Carolina Hurricanes. The hometown Canes came out flying in the second period, out shooting Chicago 19-6 in a period that saw them get to within one goal. Crawford stood on his head to keep the Blackhawks in front, and he needed to stop 15 more shots in the final period to help Chicago secure the 3-1 win. Crawford earned the game’s first star for his efforts, stopping 44 shots in total on the night. Shaw scored his second goal of the night into an empty net. The victory was an important one for the Blackhawks who moved to within two points of the Nashville Predators for home ice in a potential first round playoff series, and three points of the Central Division leading St. Louis Blues. Chicago will have their shot at the Blues over the final week of the season, matching up with St. Louis twice in their final four games. On Wednesday night they’ll attempt to finish this four game road trip strong with a victory over the struggling Philadelphia Flyers. It has been a bit of a strange stretch for the Blackhawks who will have played seven of their last nine games away from home, with quick stops to play one game at the United Center each time. That’s not an ideal recipe for success for any club, but the Blackhawks are currently second in the National Hockey League in goals against per game, and their team defense has been what has allowed them to be competitive just about every night.
Things have not been as rosy for the Flyers who have lost eight of their last nine games overall as they continue to struggle as we head toward the end of the regular season. In the eight losses the Flyers have managed to score more than two goals in just one game, and that was Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Steve Mason has been one of the best players for the Flyers this season but he was scratched before the game and had to watch Ray Emery struggle. It was a wild first period as the two clubs combined for six goals in total. Emery allowed the Oilers to jump out to a 1-0 lead less than one minute into the game, but Claude Giroux scored twice, including once on the power play, and Ryan White added his fourth goal of the year to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead. Those good feelings didn’t last long however, as the Oilers responded with two goals of their own before the end of the period. Trailing 4-3 heading into the third period, the Flyers got the tying goal from Michael Raffl to send it into overtime. Raffl has been another bright spot for Philadelphia this season, and the goal was his 18th of the year. In overtime it was the Oilers who managed to sneak another one by Emery, handing the Flyers the 5-4 loss. This has been a miserable stretch for Philadelphia and aside from Monday’s wild first period and a random blow out of the Detroit Red Wings last Saturday, they have struggled mightily to score goals. Facing off against one of the best teams in the league might not do a lot to help that.
Chicago has not looked good in their last two games but Philadelphia has looked even worse recently. It’s hard to justify playing a road favorite like this when they’ve looked a little out of synch recently, but it’s also hard to justify playing a team that can’t find a way to win games. The total is set appropriately but still might be the best play here.