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The NHL trade deadline is officially upon us and for many in the hockey world the craziness of the rumor mill will once and for all be put to sleep come 3 PM ET this afternoon. The underestimated toll that this day (and the weeks leading up to this day) has on the players and their families across the NHL can also come to and end whether the player is dealt or remains on his current team. I for one am happy that all will be said and done this afternoon and we can finally get back to focusing on the game of hockey rather than the mass amount of speculation (much of it unnecessary) that comes along with this time of the season. After today is done with teams can finally get focused on their runs towards a playoff spot and those who are fortunate enough to be sitting comfortably in one of those desired spots, they can spend the next chunk of the regular season preparing for what they hope will be a long and successful run in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. With that in mind, today I will be taking a look at two teams who took care of their respective business during this hectic of time of the year in plenty of time ahead of the trade deadline.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Chicago Blackhawks
My Pick – BLACKHAWKS -.5 IN REGULATION (-125)
The Carolina Hurricanes are in full re-build mode and have done very well so far as they have dealt their unrestricted free agents to contending teams in return for draft picks, including a first rounder, that will be used towards what they hope is a bigger and brighter future. The Blackhawks on the other hand are in a tricky situation. They lost Patrick Kane for essentially the rest of the regular season and at least a round or two in the playoffs and are now forced with the task of doing their best to acquire some offensive talent (which they did acquiring Antoine Vermette) without giving up too much that could take away their chances of going deep in to the post season this year. Regardless of their respective situations moving forward, the two teams will meet for the first time this season this evening with a second meeting three weeks away in Carolina. The Hurricanes have played solid hockey since the calendar flipped to 2015 with a 14-7-3 record and they are winners of three straight and five of their last seven. The problem for the Canes tonight is the Madhouse on Madison is not a place that welcomes low-scoring opponents very kindly since this dynasty was put together. Chicago gives up just 2.33 goals against this season and the Hurricanes score only 2.26 goals per game themselves. Tonight’s starting goaltender for the Blackhawks is Corey Crawford and Crawford was not too kind to Carolina last season. In both starts last season vs. the Hurricanes Crawford was 2-0-0 with a 1.93 goals against average. Crawford’s last action was a 3-0 shutout victory over the Florida Panthers last Thursday and there is a good chance he keeps up the good work in this contest. Carolina severely lacks offensive threats which is not the case in Chicago as Cam Ward or Anton Khudobin is certain to be busy this evening. Chicago averages 34.3 shots on goal per goal which is the best mark in the NHL this season and when you have the deep offensive talent of the Blackhawks firing that many shots at you every night, it makes for a long night for the visiting team. As I have mentioned before, betting does not have to be complicated so let’s take the much superior team here on home ice to knock off one of the NHL’s worst clubs in regulation time.