Vancouver (22-19-6) at Chicago (29-14-5)
When: Sunday, January 22nd 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
Time: 7:35 ET | TV: NHL Network
The Vancouver Canucks look to inch closer to a playoff spot when the visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at the United Center. Vancouver sits just one point behind three teams (Nashville, St. Louis, Calgary) for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. The Canucks just ended a successful 2-0-1 homestand and allowed only two regulation goals in the three games, but at the same time, only scored four themselves. Captain Henrik Sedin became the 85th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points – the 38th to do it with one franchise – with a goal on an assist from twin brother Daniel (968 career points) in Friday’s 2-1 victory over Florida. Bo Horvat (team-high 13 goals) shares the club lead in points (30) with Henrik Sedin, but has recorded only one assist in five games since being named to the Pacific Division lineup for the All-Star Game. Vancouver has seven players with at least 10 goals that includes the Sedin twins with 11 apiece. Sven Baertschi (+4) and Horvat (even) are the only two with a plus rating. The Vancouver power play is just 1-for-19 in its last six games. Ryan Miller (14-10-3, 2.48 goals-against average, .919 save percentage) is 7-0-2 with a .951 save percentage in his last nine games, and is expected to start Sunday.
Chicago edged the Canucks 4-3 on November 19th in the first of three meetings this season on Marian Hossa’s overtime goal after erasing a 3-0 deficit to win its third straight game in the series. The Blackhawks won at Boston 1-0 on Friday on Hossa’s goal with 1:26 to play for their second straight victory as they continue to battle Minnesota for supremacy in the Central Division. Patrick Kane owns a team-high 47 points despite not hitting the scoresheet in three of his last four games while Artem Anisimov leads the club with 18 goals, but hasn’t scored in his last seven. Hossa has 17 goals this season (10 in the third period or overtime) and his 516 career goals are two shy of Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk for 36th all-time. The Blackhawks’ 28th ranked penalty-killing unit is 10-for-12 in its last seven games. Corey Crawford (17-10-3, 2.54, .913) is expected to return in goal and try for his 200th career victory after Scott Darling made 30 saves on Friday night. Chicago will get visits from Tampa Bay and Winnipeg to complete a three-game homestand that starts with Vancouver.
The Canucks just don’t score enough goals to compete with a team like Chicago. The Blackhawks have scored four or more goals in three of their last five home games. I think they roll tonight.
Pick: Blackhawks -1.5 +140