Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#441 Chicago Blackhawks vs.
#442 New Jersey Devils
Friday, October 15, 2021 at 7:00pm EDT
Prudential Center, Newark
Written by Chris King

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It’s an interconference battle on the ice in the Garden State as the NHL’s opening week of the slate continues. The Chicago Blackhawks are on the road as they travel to face the New Jersey Devils Friday night. Chicago comes in off a 4-2 defeat on the road to Colorado to open their season Wednesday night. New Jersey finished the 2020-21 season with a 19-30-7 record and finished seventh in the East Division, missing the postseason. In the last 10 meetings, the Devils own a 6-1-3 mark between the teams, including a 7-1 road victory in the most recent matchup back on December 23, 2019.

Chicago Blackhawks Hoping to Even Record

Chicago got their season started on Wednesday night but they were unable to generate enough offense as they were knocked off by Colorado. The Blackhawks now hope that their trip east can help them earn their first win of the season and even their record. On the plus side, Chicago got Jonathan Toews back as he played his first game since the 2019-20 campaign as he sat out last season after being diagnosed with chronic immune response syndrome. Swinging the pendulum the other way, Kirby Dach was a bit shaky after getting drilled into the boards by Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog was suspended two games for the incident though Dach was able to stay in the contest.

On Wednesday night, Chicago dug a hole early in the game and couldn’t dig their way back out, sending them to defeat. The Blackhawks were outshot 18-8 in the opening period and trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes of play. Chicago trailed 3-0 less than 10 minutes into the contest before Dominik Kubalik got them on the board. His first of the season, on the power play, came at 16:47 off assists from Henrik Borgstrom and Ian Mitchell to make it a 3-1 game. The second period saw Chicago with a 13-9 shot advantage but they gave up the lone goal of the stanza to trail 4-1 after 40 minutes of action. In the final period, Chicago held a 13-9 edge in shots once again while scoring the lone goal of the period. That still left them short at the final horn. Connor Murphy scored his first of the season, unassisted, at 15:31 to make it a 4-2 game. The Blackhawks pulled the goaltender and had a 6 on 4 advantage for two minutes but were unable to light the lamp. Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves for Chicago, who was outshot 36-34, in the loss. He’s expected to get the start in goal again for this one.

New Jersey Devils Looking to Start Season on Positive Note

New Jersey had another disappointing campaign last season, finishing 19-30-7 for 45 points, leaving them seventh in the East Division. The Devils were eight points better than the Sabres to avoid finishing in the basement but were 26 points behind the Islanders for the final playoff spot. They enter this season having missed the postseason three straight years and in eight of the last nine. New Jersey finished 24th in the league in goals per game as they average 2.63 goals per contest this season. The Devils were 27th in goals against as they allow 3.32 goals a night on the year. New Jersey was 28th in the league in power-play success as they convert 15.1% of their chances with the man advantage. The Devils stood 31st in penalty killing as they successfully got through only 70.9% of their shorthanded situations on the year.

In the offseason, New Jersey was fairly active as they made some bigger moves to try and turn things around. The Devils picked up Dougie Hamilton on a seven-year deal while they also inked goaltender Jonathan Bernier and Tomas Tatar to two-year deals. New Jersey also retained Yegor Sharangovich and Janne Kuokkanen via new deals to keep them in the fold. The Devils saw Connor Carrick (Seattle), Josh Jacobs (Carolina), Aaron Dell (Buffalo), Ryan Murray (Colorado) and Brett Seney (Toronto) depart in the offseason. Pavel Zacha is the team’s leading returning scorer with 17 goals and 18 assists last season. Jack Hughes (11 goals, 20 assists), Jesper Bratt (seven goals, 23 assists), Sharangovich (16 goals, 14 assists) and Miles Wood (17 goals, eight assists) all look to improve on last season’s numbers to help the Devils climb the standings. Mackenzie Blackwood was 14-17-4 with a 3.04 GAA, a .902 save % and one shutout in 35 games last season. He’s the #1 goaltender though he is dealing with a heel injury and recently got a COVID-19 shot: he’s doubtful here. That means Bernier, who was 9-11-1 with a 2.99 GAA and a .914 save % in 24 appearances for Detroit last season, will get the start here.

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Both teams have had their share of struggles in recent years as injuries and inconsistency have doomed them. Chicago has at least played a regular-season game, which should work in their favor, as New Jersey hasn’t played in over a week. Their final preseason contest was canceled due to power issues, which cost them a chance to get a little more action in the mix. New Jersey is minus their top goaltender here in addition to Miles Wood, Damon Severson and Ty Smith here. That’s too much for them to overcome in this contest. Look for Chicago to even their record with a road victory here as they shut the Devils down.

Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks -100

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Chicago saw six goals on the board in their opener, which was a push on the total in the loss to Colorado. The Blackhawks now head on the road again here hoping for a better showing. On home ice, the Devils struggled to generate a ton of offense as they posted a -31 goal differential while averaging 2.32 goals per contest. New Jersey saw an average total of 5.75 goals on home ice last season, where they were a dismal 7-18-3. That number was lower than their full-season mark of 5.96 goals per contest. The Devils, with a backup goaltender in the mix, struggle to contain Chicago’s attack and this one pushes over the total.

Prediction: Over 6
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris King"

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.