The Chicago Blackhawks will return to the ice on Jan. 13, as they begin their 2021 season against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Blackhawks haven’t taken the ice since Aug. 18, when they lost in the playoffs to the Vegas Golden Knights. Chicago beat the Edmonton Oilers in the opening round, but had no such luck against Vegas.
This looked to be a promising year for the Blackhawks as recently as a month ago. But that was before a few damaging pieces of news.
More on that soon, but for now, here are the NHL odds from top Illinois online sportsbooks.
What’s the spread on the next Blackhawks game?
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is out indefinitely with an undisclosed illness.
He released the following statement last week.
“This offseason, I’ve been experiencing symptoms that have left me feeling drained and lethargic. I am working with doctors so I can better understand my condition.
Until I can get my health back to a place where I feel I can perform at an elite level and help my team, I will not be joining the Blackhawks for training camp. I do not have a timetable for when I will rejoin the team. I am extremely disappointed, but it wouldn’t be fair to myself or my teammates to attempt to play in my current condition.”
It’s scary news for a player who has been a constant for the Blackhawks since 2007. Toews has played in at least 70 games in every season since 2013-14, and has racked up five All-Star appearances in his career.
Toews’ numbers took a dip in 2019-20, scoring a career-low 18 goals. But he still racked up a healthy 60 points, and his presence will be missed on the Chicago attack.
His absence also makes the Blackhawks hard to handicap going into the season, as we don’t have a great idea of when (or if) he’ll return.
Kirby Dach also out for the Blackhawks
Chicago will be down its top two centers, as 19-year-old phenom Kirby Dach will miss four to five months with a wrist injury.
Dach was the Blackhawks’ No. 3 overall pick in 2019 and is considered one of the most exciting young prospects in hockey. He should be a cornerstone in the future, but for 2021, his absence will sting.
With Toews and Dach in the fold, Chicago likely would have fallen somewhere in the middle of the NHL pack. Without them, the Blackhawks are expected to be one of the worst teams in the league.
Patrick Kane might not have much offensive help. Kane was excellent once again in 2019-20, totaling 33 goals and 84 points.
Despite being without two offensive catalysts in Toews and Dach, Kane is still in the mix to win the Art Ross Trophy at +2000 on DraftKings.
Only eight players have shorter odds than Kane. He’d likely be higher if the Blackhawks had a better team outlook.
Chicago also has major questions in the net, as the team cut ties with longtime goalie Corey Crawford. Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban will share those duties in 2021, and it’s tough to feel confident in either.
Regular season reduced to 56 games
What once looked like a potentially exciting season for the Blackhawks has likely turned into a transition year.
With that said, the 2021 season is only 56 games long, down from the usual 82.
That’s a result of the 2019-20 season wrapping up much later than usual due to COVID-19. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in late September.
The 2021 Stanley Cup is expected to be played in July instead of May/June, as is typical.
The Blackhawks likely won’t be in the mix by then, but can they make a dark horse playoff run?
It would be quite the credit to a shorthanded group if that’s the case.