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Bet Blackhawks To Make NHL Playoffs Despite Bookies’ Doubts

Adrian Dater for Bookies.com

Adrian Dater  | 4 mins

Bet Blackhawks To Make NHL Playoffs Despite Bookies’ Doubts

It was only four years ago that the Chicago Blackhawks were taking turns passing the Stanley Cup to each other, having vanquished the Tampa Bay Lightning for their third championship in six years. “Chelsea Dagger”, the song played at the United Center after Blackhawks goals, was a tune hockey fans knew by heart whether they liked it or not.

The Blackhawks have not won a playoff round since. They have not even qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons. Bookmakers believe it will be a third straight playoff no-show in 2020.

Blackhawks Betting Tips

On the question of “To make the playoffs?”, the Blackhawks are -230 at “no” at 888Sport. They are +182 on “yes.” The Blackhawks believe they are better than the club of 2018-19, a team that went 36-34-12 and was actually in playoff contention until the final week or so of the regular season. They may be.

They added center Kirby Dach with the third overall pick in the 2019 draft, they re-acquired gritty winger Andrew Shaw - a mainstay of their Cup teams - and added depth on defense with the acquisitions of Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta. They also quietly added goalie Robin Lehner - who helped lead the Islanders to the postseason and won the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies dedication, leadership, and perseverance.

Here’s the problem: Chicago remains one of the league’s older teams, with six players 30 or older. More than that, though, they play in probably the league’s toughest division, the Central. The Blackhawks are +1000 to win the Central at 888Sport, ahead of only Minnesota (+3700). Chicago is +4000 to win the Stanley Cup.

Call me crazy, but I think Chicago might have one last good kick at the can this season. I’m not saying to run out and bet the mortgage on the Cup, but I think they can sneak into the playoffs and I’d go ahead and take that +182 bet.

Net Improvement And Offensive Mainstays

I think Lehner was a real good signing. Chicago’s biggest problem last year was goaltending, partially because Corey Crawford was hurt much of the time and Cam Ward was just too washed up to be an effective stand-in. Lehner had a legitimately good season with the Islanders. His .930 saves percentage was second in the league, to Ben Bishop’s .934, and his goals-against-average (GAA) of 2.13 was third.

Cynics might suggest those numbers are a bit deceptive because the Islanders are coached by defensive master Barry Trotz, and that Lehner’s career has mostly been mediocre beyond that. We’ll get a better idea of that this season probably.

RELATED: Why The Islanders Are A Great Bet To Win The Metropolitan

Chicago still has mainstays Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews upfront. They are still high-quality players. A lot of pundits thought Toews was starting to look washed up, but he bounced back with a 35-goal, 81-point season in 2018-19, playing all 82 games. Kane was third in the league in scoring with 110 points.

Goal-scoring shouldn’t be a problem again in Chicago, especially if Dach can make the jump to the NHL already. Lehner should make them better in goal - especially if partner Crawford can stay healthy. It’ll come down to how well the defense is, and while there is plenty of age on their back end (Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are in their mid-30s), the additions of de Haan and Maatta should help.

It’ll be a close call, but I think the Blackhawks get back to the postseason in 2020.

About the Author

Adrian Dater for Bookies.com
Adrian Dater
Adrian Dater writes about the NHL for Bookies.com. The longtime NHL writer spent 25 years at The Denver Post, 20 of which as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche.