Florida Panthers at Chicago Blackhawks – TechVerdant

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Today’s NHL Predictions features an interconference matchup between the Florida Panthers and the Chicago Blackhawks. A tell of two tales arises from this bout to which both teams arrive in very different spirits. The Panthers carry a four-game point streak and won five of their last seven games. Chicago, on the other hand, has played inconsistently, as expected, and has had some good wins mixed in with some blowout losses. The most resounding loss was against the Arizona Coyotes where they allowed eight goals and only scored one.

The Panthers feel confident closing out their road trip at the United Center. Especially when doing so against a team they seem to have all figured out. However, there is one rookie they have never crossed paths with before, and all the Cats eyes will be on him, that is Connor Bedard.

The attention Bedard receives can become a two-edged sword. Over-worry and his teammates will take advantage of the open ice, defend him as any regular player and the 18-year-old will make them pay. Nevertheless, hockey is the ultimate team sport and it does not often revolve around one specific player. So with that being said, here are some keys to victory for the Panthers on their visit to Chi-Town.

Three Keys to Victory for Florida

Deflate the Winds of Change in Windy City

The Blackhawks are far away from being a contender in the NHL. Everybody inside and outside the state of Illinois acknowledges that. However, the Hawks are not that crestfallen team going into games with no sense of urgency or desire anymore. It is only fitting for Windy City’s team to finally have some nice wind blowing them from behind, pushing them forward. Drafting Connor Bedard is a big reason for it, but so are additions to their prospects’ pool and players like Taylor Hall, despite him being put on IR.

The Panthers have to assert dominance, both physically and in the game flow. Florida is a playoff team and the current Eastern Conference Champion, one would expect to have that disparity reflected on the scoreboard. Following a big shutout win at Detroit, confidence within the group is high. At Chicago, the Panthers face a big chance to show they can be consistent. The main concern regarding this team since last year was their typical concentration and intensity drops during games. A full 60-minute performance will be needed for the Panthers to win at Chicago. The Hawks despite having a worse roster can score in bunches and any sign of life can get them going.

Strong Power Play and Penalty Kill Performance

This has been the Achilles tendon on this team during the start of the season. The Panthers cannot solve their issues when on special teams. Against Detroit, we finally saw the capabilities of the PK and they had an outstanding performance shutting down the Wings power play. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and despite the penalty kill great game, the power play struck out once again.

The Panthers need to make some twitches to their man-advantage units and are currently lacking a sharpshooter. Paul Maurice noticed that and tried out Carter Verhaeghe on the first unit. Verhaeghe was the team’s leading goalscorer last season, a great amount of his 42 tallies came thanks to his wicked wrist shot. Sam Reinhart is currently the leader in goals (eight) and points (11), mostly because of his power play contributions. Therefore adding Verhaeghe could alleviate some pressure on Reinhart and grant the unit far more firepower. Evan Rodrigues would be the expected forward to move down in the PP lines for Verhaeghe’s rise. Verhaeghe’s addition could make an impact on this NHL Prediction.

Getting Tkachuk back on his groove

Matthew Tkachuk is currently the team leader for assists (seven), however, he has not felt himself when close to the pipes. Whether he is still struggling from the broken sternum or is just running on a bad streak, Tkachuk has not been able to find the back of the net with as ease as he could last season. His play has been far from bad, he has had very good outings but is just missing that big component that makes him a league superstar.

Against Detroit Tkachuk displayed a great performance and showed glimpses of brilliance. The reason for it can be found in his line’s centreman, Anton Lundell. The young Finnish has evolved throughout the years and has proved he is top-six worthy. Whenever he is at his best everybody around him ups their game and such was the case last match at Mo-Town. More great outings from Lundell could be just what Tkachuk needs to find his mojo and be back on that level he showed last season. If Tkachuk is rolling the Cats will be rolling, too. When Tkachuk is at his best the Panthers power play gains life and becomes much more efficient.

 

Ride the Hot Hand in Net

Much science and data can be thrown into the coach’s decision as to who gets the nod in net, save percentage, goals saved above expected, anything. There are as many stats as you could think of. In contrast, the choice often comes down to feelings or impressions rather than stats. Stats, despite what many can say, can lie and often are deceiving. One common thought among NHL managers is keeping the goalie who comes off a win. If he comes off a shutout there really should be no thought to be put into the decision. Ride the hot hand. Do not fix what is not broken.

Sergei Bobrovsky is coming off an excellent match at Detroit. He was steaming hot at Motor City. Going into the matchup against the Hawks Bob starting in net should not be questioned. Anthony Stolarz is 1-0 this season but that game was against the (still) winless San Jose Sharks. It is not advised to have him face his first real threat away from home. NHL Predictions is more about final scores than guessing who will be in net, but in this case, it could make a big impact on the scoreboard.

NHL Predictions: Florida vs Chicago

Prediction Time

On paper this a one-sided bout, however, NHL Predictions acknowledges the unpredictability of hockey and takes into account many other factors aside from teams’ records and latest feats. The Blackhawks have had time to regroup following the humiliating loss to the Coyotes. Their hosting of the Panthers will be their first game in November. The Panthers are coming off two great demanding games at Boston and Detroit and could be running low on fuel heading to the Second City. Expect a close, grinding game with fair scoring from both sides. Roster and lines depth could be the deciding factor and on that matter, it is hard not to incline towards Florida.

Prediction: Florida 5- 2 Chicago

Main photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports



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