Blackhawks, Canucks top Friday NHL odds slate

By: Barry Daniels | Thursday, February 3, 2011
Corey Crawford

Corey Crawford’s 2.19 GAA is almost a full goal better than Marty Turco.

The Chicago Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champs, but find themselves struggling this season. The Vancouver Canucks own a league-leading 75 points and are in the midst of a four-game winning streak.

The fourth meeting between these two Western Conference foes takes place Friday at Vancouver’s General Motors Place, with the puck dropping at 7:05 p.m. (PT). The Canucks are 155 home favorites on the overnight line, with the total set at 5 ½ goals.

Chicago captured the first two matchups against the Canucks this season, including a 7-1 triumph as a 150 road underdog on Nov. 20 in the lone meeting at Vancouver.

The squads split the two games in Chicago. The Hawks registered a 3-2 shootout victory on Oct. 20 as a 145 home favorite, while the Canucks notched a 4-0 shutout victory on Dec. 3 as 110 road underdogs. The ‘under’ cashed in two of the three contests.

Chicago is now 6-2 in the last eight series meetings against the Canucks, including 4-0 in the last four trips to Vancouver. The ‘over’ is also 4-1 in the last five meetings at GM Place.

Vancouver extended its winning streak to four in a row Tuesday by clobbering the Coyotes as a 128 road favorite, 6-0.

Goalie Roberto Luongo didn’t show any rust from a week-long layoff as he recorded his third shutout of the season. Luongo is now 24-8-2-5 with a 2.22 GAA and .926 save percentage.

Prospect Cody Hodgson scored his first NHL goal in just his second game. All six of the Canucks’ goals came at even strength, including their first shot on goal by Daniel Sedin at 3:46 of the first period.

The Canucks solidified their hold on first place overall with 75 points. Vancouver is now 33-10-9 on the season and has lost just three games in regulation in its last 32 encounters.

Vancouver will begin a four-game homestand with Friday’s game, and that is bad news for the defending champion Blackhawks.

The Canucks are a league-leading 17-3-1-4 through 25 home dates and are outscoring the opposition at home by an average of 3.52 to 2.08. Overall, they are own a plus-53 goal differential (175-122).

Coach Alain Vigneault’s Canucks are ranked third in both offense (3.3 GPG) and defense (2.2 GPG). They are third on the power play with a 24 percent success rate and fourth on the penalty kill by fighting off 84.9 percent of their opponents chances.

Chicago entered the All-Star break on a two-game losing streak, but snapped that skid with Tuesday’s 7-4 victory against Columbus as a 135 home favorite. Though the combined 11 goals soared ‘over’ the NHL odds closing total, the ‘under’ is still 28-23 in Chicago’s first 51 outings and 7-3 in its last 10 road dates.

The win allowed Chicago to improve to 27-20-2-2, but the club is still sitting in third place in the Central Division, 10 points behind first-place Detroit.

Though the Blackhawks failed to score on five power play chances during Tuesday’s contest, they still own the league’s best power play unit by connecting on 25.6 percent of their chances. Chicago is fifth in the league offensively, averaging 3.3 goals per game.

Marty Turco stopped 29 of Columbus’ 34 shots to register the win and raise his record to 11-10-1-1. He has a bloated 3.06 GAA and an unimpressive .897 save percentage.

Corey Crawford, the other half of Chicago’s two-goalie tandem, is 16-10-1-1 with a 2.19 GAA and .919 save percentage. He also has two shutouts.

The Don Best Sports injury report lists Vancouver left wing Aaron Volpatti as “questionable” with sore ribs. Chicago center Ryan Johnson is also “questionable” with a lower body injury.

Vancouver resumes its four-game homestand Monday by hosting the Ottawa Senators. Chicago continues its six-game road excursion Monday with a stop in Calgary to play the Flames.

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