Who would have figured that a mid-November matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks would actually be a battle of division leaders?

The Blackhawks were expected to be good but nobody envisioned the Oilers being among the best teams in the league after finishing dead-last in the NHL standings a season ago. So much for the myth that a last-place team can’t turn things around quickly in the NHL. 

Jordan EberleBut both teams come into this game at different ends of the spectrum as the Oilers have lost two straight to elite teams while the Blackhawks have won two straight. 

The Oilers are in a bit of a tough spot here as this will be the sixth and final game of their current road trip. It’s their third game in four nights – all on the road – and fourth in sixth, and that could lead to them being a bit worn down. 

Sunday, November 13th

NHL Odds: Blackhawks -165 

The Edmonton Oilers can win because… 

They’ve been surprising teams all season long. The Oilers have compiled a 9-5-2 record and have been paying off as a handsome dog regularly. Most recently, they were a +120 dog in Montreal and won, +155 in Los Angeles, EVEN at St. Louis, +155 in Colorado and +145 in Washington. All of those games resulted in wins for the Oilers. 

While their young core of forwards has played well on offense, it’s in fact been their steady goaltending that’s given them plenty of chances to win. Veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is 7-1-2 on the season with a 1.18 GAA and a .957 save percentage. For his career against Chicago, he’s 14-8-1 with a 2.38 GAA and a .928 save percentage. 

On offense, the Oilers have earned good production from their young stars like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (13 points), Jordan Eberle (11 points) and Taylor Hall (10 points), but it’s in fact been veteran Ryan Smyth that has led the way (nine goals, 16 points). 

If the Oilers get another complete team effort, they might be able to spring the upset in this spot. 

The Chicago Blackhawks can win because… 

ToewsThe show is over for Edmonton. It’s been a real cute start, everything has been rosy as they’ve surprised some teams and proven that they aren’t the worst team in the league anymore, but they are clearly slowing down. 

The Oilers have lost three of their last four games and they’ve been outscored 13-5 in the losses. Scoring has become a bit of an issue as the Oilers don’t have much balance. Smyth and Nugent-Hopkins have combined for 16 goals so far this season but the rest of the forwards only have 12. It’s not helping matters that defenseman Ryan Whitney is out until mid-December. 

The Blackhawks are rolling right now as they have won two straight and have won four of their last five at home. Their weapons are heating up as Marian Hossa has nine points in his last seven games, Patrick Sharp is coming off a three-point game and defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook appear to have found their offensive touch. 

While the Oilers are limited to a couple of weapons, the Blackhawks are fully loaded and will come at Edmonton with every line. That’s going to be a problem for the Oilers, whose defense has gone south of late. 

Outlook & NHL betting prediction: 

If Devan Dubnyk is in net for the Oilers – he’s lost four of his last six starts – then you can bet the Blackhawks and not even worry about it. If it’s Khabibulin, then you can still bet the Blackhawks, as they’ll likely take the game in a closer contest. 

This is a bad spot for Edmonton. It’s their final game of a six-game road trip and they’ve gone cold while losing three of their last four. They’ve also been badly outplayed in the last two games, losing by three goals each time to Detroit and Boston. 

The Blackhawks are 6-1-2 on the year at home and will take the opportunity to show the young Oilers who’s the boss. 

NHL Picks: Blackhawks