The Minnesota Wild play host to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night, as they begin their quest for a comeback effort in the backend of the season. Minnesota will need a strong push and look for help from elsewhere to sneak into the postseason. As of Friday night, the Wild are last in what is a difficult Central Division. They may be last, but they’re still hanging in the wildcard race at 23-21-6 and 52 points.
There’s still a high mountain to climb, with the Blackhawks, Jets, Predators, and Golden Knights all ahead of them for the final wildcard. Having said that, six points is more than doable for the Wild. They had a really slow start and began to play better hockey in the later stages of the first-half. We’ll see if Bruce Boudreau has something up his sleeve for down the stretch.
Boudreau is going to be on a very hot seat if the Wild can’t make it interesting in March. I have to think the Wild must at least take a run at the playoffs for Boudreau to survive in Minnesota. The front office didn’t sign Mats Zuccarello to a hefty contract for the team to be on vacation in the spring instead of playing hockey. Zuccarello was signed to a five-year $30-million deal, so there is a window of opportunity there for the Wild. With 13 goals and 15 assists, the ROI hasn’t been there yet, though he’s played better following a sluggish start in Minnesota.
They concluded the first-half of the regular season with a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. I’m not sure if that’s something to be super proud of, but it’s two points that the Wild may need down the road soon. The most impressive recent win by the Wild was a rout of the Dallas Stars by a score of 7-0 on January 18. The Wild have also won three of their previous four games, so the effort has been there of late. Hopefully it wasn’t lost during the break.
The Bruins were the hottest team in the league to open the season. No one was stopping them on either end of the ice. However, since early December, the Bruins haven’t looked like the same team. They went on a five-game losing streak and lost eight of nine games. Boston has been able to stabilize a bit after getting out of that hole, though have been nothing more than a team hovering around the .500 mark since the big slide in December. The Bruins were in Winnipeg last night, so will do a quick turnaround to Minnesota for Saturday. Head below for our free Bruins vs. Wild pick.
Boston Bruins vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Odds:
Bruins vs. Wild Prediction:
This is a rematch from a comeback win by the Bruins on November 23 at TD Garden in Boston. The Bruins were able to erase a two-goal deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime and win. Minnesota were unable to put the Bruins away, but it was a solid effort by the Wild nonetheless. TD Garden is not an easy place to win, though the Wild were able to give the Bruins all that they could handle. That certainly won’t make the team feel any better about blowing a late lead. The Wild have an opportunity to ensure they grab two points on Saturday night.
The Bruins have been one of the toughest teams to beat at home in 2019-20. They own a record of 17-2-9 at TD Garden this season. However, their numbers drop hard when playing as a visitor in another barn. With the win in Winnipeg last night, the Bruins advanced to just 13-8-3 on the road this year. Notching home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs is therefore likely going to be important for the Bruins. Previous results in the regular season sometimes have a funny way of being irrelevant in the playoffs, though.
Just look at the Lightning, but going by their production thus far, the Bruins would definitely welcome having a Game 7 in Boston. The absence of Tuukka Rask on the ice recently has been hurting the Bruins as well. Rask was able to make his first appearance since January 14 last night, though, as he was cleared to play after suffering a concussion. The difference was instant, with Rask stopping 37 of 38 shots against the Jets. Rask has been stellar with a record of 18-4 on the season.
Jaroslav Halak will most likely get the nod for the Bruins in Minnesota on Saturday. He has allowed at least 3 goals in five of his last seven outings. Halak has been one of the more reliable backups in the NHL, having posted a 2.47 GAA and 0.918 save percentage in 24 games. That said, Halak is not the same as Rask in the crease. The Bruins have allowed 2.51 goals per game on the season, though allow more goals on the road with 2.65 goals against. They face a Wild team who typically bring their A game at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild are 14-6-4 at home as opposed to dreadful mark of 9-15-3 on the road in 2019-20. The defence has been drastically different juxtaposed to home and the road. Note that the Wild have yielded 3.28 goals per game overall, though just 2.78 goals per game at home in Minnesota. The Bruins have not been good on a back-to-back, with a record of 1-4 in their previous five attempts. There seems to be too much value on the Wild at home to not consider this bet on Saturday night in the NHL.