The Carolina Hurricanes have started out this season on a roll. Carolina will face an interesting test on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild had a rough start to the season losing their first two games. Minnesota bounced back with a tough rivalry win against the Blackhawks.
Minnesota finished last season with a record of 45-26-11. The Wild did not do too much throughout free agency to bolster their roster. The Wild have jumped out to an unexciting start this season going 1-1-1. Minnesota needs to get on track quickly if they want to keep up in the Central Division. There are quite a few tough teams and if the Wild fall behind early, it could be a rough road back to the top.
Carolina has jumped out to a quick start this season. The Hurricanes are sitting nicely at 3-0-1 to begin the season. Last season, the Hurricanes finished with a record of 36-35-11. Carolina is currently sitting at the top of the Metropolitan Division. If the younger guys can continue to produce at a high level, I believe the Hurricanes could compete for a playoff spot.
Carolina and Minnesota met twice last season. In the first meeting, the Hurricanes pulled off a 5-4 win in the shootout at home. Jaccob Slavin scored the only goal in a shootout to push Carolina to victory. The second meeting of the season shifted back to Minnesota where the Wild pulled off the win. Minnesota dominated with a 6-2 victory in the second meeting.
The Wild’s offense has not been producing at a great rate this season. Minnesota was able to score four goals last game, but they still only six goals in three games. Averaging two goals a game is not enough to win consistently. Minnesota will need to keep it going against the Hurricanes if they want to have a better start to begin the season.
Carolina’s Youth Movement vs Minnesota’s Veteran Core
The Hurricanes have picked up plenty of really solid young prospects over the last couple seasons. Now these younger players are taking over on the ice and on the scoring sheet. Sebastian Aho leads the team with six points. Warren Foegele is tied for the team lead in goals with three. Andrei Svechnikov has added two goals and two assists. The Hurricanes have plenty of other younger guys throughout their lineup as well.
Minnesota has stuck with their veteran core to try and lead them on another deep season run. Jason Zucker has two goals and an assist on the young season. Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Ryan Suter all have three points as well. After these players, nobody else in the lineup has more than one point. These are all great players, but they are not forwards that are known for carrying a team’s scoring load.
I believe that the Hurricanes prospect pool makes them the better forward core. While it is more likely to be inconsistent, the talent and speed that all these different prospects bring to the table is game changing for Carolina. The Wild’s veteran core is still really good, and their patience and experience could make them a good match for the Hurricanes.
Petr Mrazek is expected to start in net for the Hurricanes on Saturday. Mrazek has had a rough start to begin the new season. He has a save percentage of .841 and a GAA of 3.52. Last season, Mrazek bounced around from Detroit to Philadelphia. In total, he played 39 games and posted a .902 save percentage and a 3.03 GAA. I believe he should have a bounce back performance against a weaker Minnesota offense.
Devan Dubnyk will likely start in net for Minnesota on Saturday. Dubnyk has a save percentage of .945 and a 1.92 GAA to begin the season. Last season, Dubnyk posted a .918 save percentage and a GAA of 2.52. Dubnyk is one of the better goalies in the NHL. He should put up a fight against the Hurricanes youngsters.
Minnesota’s offense is struggling, while the Hurricanes’ offense is exploding onto the scene. Carolina has jumped off to a quick start to begin the season and they look legit. It is still early, but I believe they bring some of that momentum into Minnesota. The Wild had to come from behind to beat the Blackhawks, but they pulled it off in the end. I believe Minnesota faces a more difficult challenge against the Hurricanes.
BetOnline has Carolina listed at a money line of +127. That implies that they only win this game 44 percent of the time. I believe that even thought the Wild are at home, the Hurricanes win this game six out of ten. As an underdog on the road against a team that has had some clear struggles early in the season, I believe the Hurricanes on the money line is the best bet.