The Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild meet at the Xcel Energy Center for a pivotal contest between two teams playing well. The Golden Knights have won three of their last four games, while the Wild have done the same. Vegas has won 11 of their previous 13 games. Conversely, the Wild are winners in 8 of their last 11 games, so things have been heating up in Minnesota and Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights have struck gold recently in the Pacific Division, as they continue to put some distance between them and the rest of the pack. They got some help from the Winnipeg Jets last night, as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-2. The Oilers weren’t able to get closer at home against the Jets, while the Golden Knights maintained their 3-point lead in the Pacific with the loss.
Vegas can get out to a 5-point lead with a win in Minnesota tonight. They’re certainly playing like the team who wants it most in the division. It felt like for the majority of the season that no one really wanted it. Five teams were sitting there playing ping pong with one another getting no separation. However, we’ve seen a different tune from the Golden Knights of late, as they’ve been playing focused hockey recently.
It was a wise move by the Golden Knights to work out a deal to get Robin Lehner to Las Vegas. Lehner was on a road to nowhere in Chicago with the Blackhawks, and he got what he was looking for with a trade to the Golden Knights. Remember that Lehner only signed a 1-year deal with the Blackhawks, so this is a contract year for him. With a bigger stage on a better team and the playoffs to show his stuff, Lehner caught a break with the trade.
Meanwhile, the Wild continue to fight in the wildcard race in the Western Conference. They’re on the bubble with a 1-point deficit behind the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators for the final playoff spot. The Canucks and Predators are tied up at 78 points, with the Wild right at their ankles. Minnesota is coming off a 5-4 win in overtime against the Ducks on Sunday in Anaheim. They had a nice little break leading up to this one at home. Head below for our free Golden Knights vs. Wild pick.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Odds:
Golden Knights vs. Wild Prediction:
The Wild put on an impressive show for the home crowd with a 4-0 win over the Golden Knights last month. Alex Stalock was between the pipes and made 26 of 26 saves for the shutout. In their first meeting this season, the Golden Knights were 3-2 winners at T-Mobile Arena in December. The Wild have been the better of the two teams in their eight-game history, with wins in six out of eight meetings.
If only the Wild had a consistent goaltender this season then they’d be in the driver’s seat right now and not have to worry about getting a wildcard. The offence has been trying to do most of the work, though. In their last ten games, the Wild have scored 4 goals per game, though have allowed 3 goals a game. The 7 goals they allowed against the Kings skews that number up considerably, so I will give them that. Minus the Kings game, the Wild have allowed 2.55 goals per game in their previous nine games, which isn’t nearly as bad.
It feels like in a way that Devan Dubnyk has quietly become the backup in Minnesota. Dubnyk has been well off centre in 2019-20, as he’s struggled with a 3.35 GAA and 0.89 save percentage. The Wild can’t keep force feeding Dubnyk on the ice when things just aren’t clicking for him. If you recall, he took time off from hockey to be with his wife back home on two separate occasions this year. I think his mind has been elsewhere and not totally focused on hockey. Dubnyk allowed 4 goals against the Blues and Ducks in his most recent appearances.
Stalock is an excellent backup, but it’s tough to say if he has what it takes to lead the Wild far. His numbers are fine, though, with a 2.67 GAA and 0.91 save percentage, Stalock has more than earned his pay in 2019-20. He is coming off a horrid performance against the Kings with 6 goals against, though. Stalock can be superb and look like a full-time starter, and other times he lays an egg like that.
He has been much better in the comfort of his own arena at the Xcel Energy Center. Stalock holds a 2.26 GAA and 0.919 save percentage as opposed to a 3.13 GAA and 0.902 save percentage on the road. Max Pacioretty will be unavailable in Minnesota tonight, as he’s week to week with a lower-body injury. Mark Stone is also week to week and Chandler Stephenson is a game-time decision. Depth should be an issue up front for the Golden Knights in this one. The value appears to be with the Wild on Thursday night.