The NHL schedule will wind down early this week before we reach the official start of the All-Star break following Wednesday night. The Panthers will be off following Tuesday night in Chicago at the United Center. They will be on a back-to-back against the Wild and Blackhawks, and then get their break and bye underway. The Panthers will get an extended break, given that their bye week falls immediately after All-Star Weekend.
That could work in their favour or against them. They will not play until February 1st after Tuesday night. That’s a long time to go without playing a game, which could help them rest their bones for an important stretch. However, there’s also the chance that they return from their vacation feeling sluggish and rusty. For a team on the bubble in the Eastern Conference, there isn’t going to be much time to recover from a poor effort in February.
The Panthers are coming off a nice and easy 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. They didn’t have to do anything too exotic in that one, as they were able to neutralize the worst team in the league. Sergei Bobrovsy made his return to the crease and was solid, as he stopped 27 of 28 shots in Detroit. Bobrovsky has been banged up recently with an upper-body injury and missed some time this month.
Bobrovsky’s backup, Chris Driedger, who filled in while Bobrovsky was out went down with an injury against the Kings on Thursday night. He will reportedly miss a few weeks. Fortunately, Bobrovsky just made his return, but they could be in trouble if he gets dinged and has to leave the ice again. Bovrovsky had an easy night against the Red Wings in his most recent action, though that’s going to change on Monday night against a Wild team who’ve been getting the most of their offence recently.
This certainly hasn’t been the same old puck control defensive Wild team we’ve been used to in the past. Part of that has to do with their goaltending situation not being the best, but it’s also a reflection of adding firepower in the offseason. Mats Zuccarello’s contract may have not been the wisest long-term move, but his ability has nevertheless helped the Wild move the puck much more effectively in 2019-20.
Either Alex Stalock or Devan Dubnyk have to get going. Dubnyk should be that guy as the starting goaltender, but he’s been away from the team at two seperate times this season because of health complications regarding his wife. When he has been active, Dubnyk looks like a guy who has his mind elsewhere. Dubnyk is currently listed as probable, but they could go with Stalock who is coming off his second shutout of the season. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Wild pick.
Florida Panthers vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Odds:
Panthers vs. Wild Prediction:
There weren’t any negatives to find in the 7-0 win for the Wild on Saturday night. Everything came full circle to earn the most lopsided win in team history. The Stars aren’t an offensive threat, but their goaltending and defence was horrible as well. Anton Kdubodin allowed 4 goals on 17 shots, while Ben Bishop gave up 3 goals on 12 shots.
Stalock was able to stop all 27 that came his way. The Wild are going to play a totally different scheme on Monday night. Florida are going to present a much different challenge than what they saw on Saturday. Instead of a defensive team that want to slow things down, the Panthers are going to want to do the opposite with their quick strike offence.
Stalock, if he gets the start, is likely to be under way more pressure in the defensive zone than on Saturday night. He holds a 2.83 GAA and 0.907 save percentage, which is more than fine for a guy on his contract. Stalock’s role on the team is supposed to be a backup to Dubnyk. Dubnyk has missed a lot of time, and when he has been with the team, things have been really cold for him. In 23 appearances this year, Dubnyk has posted a 3.35 GAA and 0.892 save percentage. In his most recent outing, Dubnyk allowed 7 goals on 29 shots against the Penguins.
Prior to that effort, he gave up 3 goals on 29 shots versus the Penguins. Better play by Dubnyk is going to be required if they want to improve on their record of 22-20-6 and make a run at the postseason. As a team, the Wild are 26th in the NHL with 3.27 goals against per game. At home that number jumps up to 3.73 goals allowed, though the offence gets a boost with 3.27 goals per game as opposed to 3.06 goals a game overall.
The Wild are likely going to have to find the back of the net to win this one. Florida have had no issues in that regard this season, especially most recently where they’ve notched at least 4 goals in each of their last four games and in five of their last six outings. Dating back to December 29th, the Panthers have scored an average of 4.2 goals per contest.
That’s helped vault them into 1st in scoring in the league with 3.64 goals a game on the season. With Bobrovsky heading into this one with a 3.22 GAA and 0.898 save percentage, the goal scoring has been required. He’s been even worse on the road, where Bobrovsky has a 3.63 GAA and 0.873 save percentage.
The winner of this is likely going to have to have their offence clicking on Monday night. That’s typically been the case when they meet, with the OVER going 5-1-1 in their previous seven contests. They reached a total of at least 6 goals in all of those games. Consider a look at the OVER on Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.