The second day of the divisional round matchups in the NFL concludes, while we get a handful of NHL games on Sunday. After the Super Bowl, the NHL usually gets a pretty good nationally televised game on Sunday afternoons. The attention is going to be on the NFL again today, but there are some games out there on the ice worth paying attention to. The Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild aren’t going to draw the most attention, but it could be a game we make some coin on.
Vancouver is playing like the team we thought they’d be. They’ve won just three of their last sixteen games. The Canucks managed to stop the bleeding for a second, as they beat the Blue Jackets in their last outing. They’ve been on the road the last four games and that was their first win of the bunch. The absence of Bo Horvat has really done a number on them but they hope to get him back before the end of the month. He was really one of the reasons the Canucks started off as well as they did. Not that they looked like world beaters or anything, but in any event, better than expected. It looked like they could be a fringe team to compete for a playoff spot, but that’s not looking the case anymore. When Horvat went down, it pretty well signaled the end of that plan.
If it weren’t for 20-year-old Brock Boeser, things would be looking a lot uglier than they are. Boeser made the All-Star team, which was well deserved. He was the only Canuck to reach the All-Star Game. It may have been different with a healthy Horvat. Therein lies the problem with no depth on a roster. Boeser and Horvat were carrying the team, and when one of them went down, the Canucks folded up like a cardboard box. In any event, they looked good against the Jackets their last time out in a 5-2 win. Get our free Canucks vs. Wild pick for Sunday below.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild Pick
While Horvat in the lineup would be nice, the defence hasn’t been doing anything and have been the reason they’re struggling so badly. In their last ten games they’ve given up nearly 4 goals per game. A few weeks ago they took a 7-5 loss to the Canadiens. Horvat or not, they’re not going to win many games allowing 7 goals. Since then, they’ve given up 4 or more goals in half of their outings, so they haven’t exactly improved much. Jacob Markstrom enters with a 2.74 GAA and .908 save percentage in net.
The Wild have been looking great at home, posting a record of 10-2-0 in their last 12 games in Minnesota. Conversely, the Canucks are 1-6-0 in their last seven road games. Vancouver can’t win anywhere lately, regardless of where it’s at, so not that it means too much. The Canucks haven’t earned back-to-back wins in more than a month.
We go back to December 5th to find the last time they went back-to-back in the win column. The Wild are heading into Sunday with plenty of confidence after beating the Blackhawks and Jets. They took a 4-1 win against the Jets last night, and will be right back on the ice on Sunday night. I could picture a 3-1 or 4-2 Wild win. The Canucks just want to get home after this grueling road trip, and focusing on the Wild probably isn’t going to be in the cards tonight. Given the pretty hefty odds on the Wild at -1.5, it’s certainly worth a look as we’re getting some good value.
PICK: WILD -1.5 (+170)