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$FML's NHL Wednesday BEST Bet - 2/22

The analysis is OFF THE CHARTS for this pick from FastMoneyLabs to help you cash on Wednesday night's NHL slate.

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Chicago Blackhawks (19-32-5) at Dallas Stars (30-15-12)

The 2023 NHL Draft class is STACKED, and the top prize shines bright. By all accounts it's Connor Bedard, a 17-year-old Canadian who's been coined "the next Connor McDavid." This injects an intriguing twist into the 2023 season, whereby every remaining game counts -- regardless of standings position.

I mention Connor Bedard, since the Chicago Blackhawks should be on the Mount Rushmore of bottom feeders pursuing him right now, but you wouldn't know it from recent play. They've now won 3 straight contests, including 2 vs. top teams (Vegas and Toronto). This has led fans to question what, exactly, are they friggin' doing?

While I understand (and sympathize with) the sentiment, I believe Blackhawks fans can rest easy tonight. That's because negative regression appears extremely imminent. It's Chicago's 3rd game in 4 nights, and the team's 5 wins in this situation compares to 22 losses since 2021. They're losing these contests by an average margin of 1.48 goals, making it a pain-free experience.

Drilling down on the trend reveals Chicago's offense -- or lack thereof -- is the root problem. They're scoring just 2.1 expected goals per game under these rest conditions, -20% vs. well-rested situations. Tonight's also a back-to-back (B2B), and the Hawks average just 1.7 goals per game in B2Bs in the last 2 seasons, winning just 3x in 22 tries. This year, they're 0-9 in B2Bs.

Long story short... I see no reason to avoid the chalk tonight and want action on Dallas! My preferred angle -- after factoring in pricing -- lies in the 1st period market. The Stars score the 8th most 1P goals at home (1.00/game) while allowing the 10th fewest (0.76). These trends contrast sharply against Chicago, who score the 2nd fewest 1P goals on the road (0.58/game) while allowing the 15th most (0.88). Looking specifically at B2Bs: betting Chicago to lose the 1st period is 6-2-2 in the last 2 seasons when it's their 3rd game in 4 nights. They scored just 3 goals (total) in those 10 periods while allowing 11. One of those contests last season was in Dallas and the Stars shined, leading 2-0 after 1P.

Even the worst tanking teams are bound to win some games, right? But 4 straight? They say even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, but not 4. The Blackhawks are playing with pride these days, and I respect it; however, pride isn't timeless, and tonight: it's outmatched by talent, rest, and statistical edges.

Too-long / didn’t read: I’m taking the favorites to win the 1st period at -110 (playable down to -125).

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