The NHL is set up with a lot of action on the board for Thursday night. Twelve games are up on the board in total for December 12. One of these matchups will be between the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild. These two teams have had solid starts to the season and will look to earn another tough one on Thursday. This game will start at around 8:00 PM Eastern time.
The Oilers have started out this season with a record of 18-11-4, which has them tied for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Arizona Coyotes are tied with them with 40 points, while the Calgary Flames are sitting only two points back. Edmonton has hit a bit of a bump, losing two in a row and five of their last seven. The Oilers will look to get back on track with a win on Thursday night.
Minnesota has earned a record of 14-12-5 to open up the new season, which has them tied for fifth place in the Central Division. The Wild are tied with the Nashville Predators and three points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota has picked up their play as of late, winning five of their last seven, but dropping their last two.
Edmonton has been off to a tremendous start after missing out on the postseason last season, while the Wild were a little slow out of the gates. Both teams have lost two games in a row coming into this matchup and will look to bounce back. The Oilers are coming off a tough 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes, while Minnesota lost in a shootout to the Ducks.
The Oilers and the Wild met up three times throughout last season. Edmonton hosted the first game of the season series and took a tough 4-3 loss at home. The Oilers also hosted the second game of the season and rode a four point night by Connor McDavid to a 7-2 win. The final game shifted to Minnesota, where McDavid had two points as Edmonton won 4-1.
Minnesota hosted the first game of this season’s series on October 22. The Wild got going early as Eric Staal scored his first and second goal of the season in the first period. Brad Hunt tallied one on the power play off of a Staal assist to make it 3-0. Devan Dubnyk left the game with an injury, but he and Alex Stalock combined for a 25 shot shutout as the Wild won 3-0.
Edmonton and Minnesota have gone 2-2 against each other over this season and last. Connor McDavid had a point in all three games last season and at least two points in both of their wins. This season the Wild kept McDavid off the scoresheet and were able to win. Minnesota will look to do this again on Thursday night, but this is much easier said than done.
The Oilers special teams have been doing extremely well to start out this season. Edmonton’s power play has scored 31 goals on 98 chances this season, which is an amazing 31.6 percent success rate. The Oilers penalty kill has only allowed their opponents to score 16 power play goals on 104 opportunities, which is an 84.6 percent kill rate.
Minnesota’s special teams are sitting a bit below the league averages to this point in the season. The Wild’s power play has capitalized on 19 of their 104 chances this season, which is good enough for an 18.3 percent. Minnesota’s penalty kill has allowed opposing teams to score 20 goals on their 92 chances, which is a 78.3 percent.
Edmonton’s special teams have been tremendous to this point in the season, which I believe could give them a big edge in this matchup. The Oilers allow a lot of power play chances for opposing teams, but I think that their kill will be good enough to shut down the Wild. As for Minnesota, they will need to stay out of the box as much as possible to avoid facing Edmonton’s lethal power play.
I expect Mike Smith to get the nod in the crease for Edmonton on Thursday night. Smith has earned a record of 7-7-2 through 16 starts this season. He has posted a save percentage of .903 and a 2.88 GAA. Smith’s last start came against the Buffalo Sabres, where he stopped 19 of the 22 shots against him in an overtime loss.
Alex Stalock is projected to get the start in net for the Wild in this matchup. Stalock has a record of 8-4-2 through his games played on the season. He has put up a .906 save percentage and a GAA of 2.91. Stalock’s last start was against the Carolina Hurricanes, where he stopped 34 of the 39 shots against him in a losing effort.
These two goalies have put up similar stat through the season so far. Stalock has a slightly better save percentage, while Smith has a slightly better GAA. Both goalies are coming off tough performances in their last game, but will look to bounce back in this one. Both defenses will look to put up strong performances in front of their goalies to help give their team the edge.
The Wild were able to take the first game of the season series, but I believe that Edmonton will bounce back with a win in this one. Minnesota was able to shut down the Oilers offense and Connor McDavid in the first matchup. I do not think that the Wild will be able to shut down Edmonton’s strong offense and power play in this one, which I think will give them the win.
BetOnline has Minnesota listed as a -135 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Wild will win this game around 57.5 percent of the time. I believe that even with Minnesota hosting this game, it should be much closer to even. The Oilers have been better overall this season and I think that they will win this game on the road.