A tale of two teams square off Saturday evening as the red-hot Nashville Predators travel to Minnesota to take on a reeling Wild squad. Much was expected from the Wild in 2013, but their recent slip-ups have worried fans and team personnel alike. After some line-up adjustments, they’ll try and get back on track against the Preds tonight.
Our featured selections enter the evening 10-4-0.
Nashville Predators (+100) @ Minnesota Wild (-120)
Too much seems to be being made about recent performance with this betting line. The Predators enter winners of their past four contests, all against some pretty solid opposition. They’re playing well no doubt, but going into Minnesota and doing that against a hungry and motivated Wild squad won’t be easy. Minnesota needs to make the post-season this year, and they know a huge effort will be expected from them tonight at home. They’ve lost their previous three games, and a streak longer than that could prove detrimental in this condensed season.
One area where the Wild should have an edge in this contest is their defense group. Led by Ryan Suter, the former Predator, the top-6 of Minnesota play well as a unit and should be able to shut down an inept Predators attack. Nashville wins their games on staunch defensive play, and steady net-minding, both factors Minnesota can easily overcome. Add in the fact that one of Nashville’s top forwards remains out in Patric Hornqvist, and Predators’ goals could be rarity on Saturday. Up front, Minnesota possesses all kinds of depth that should give the Predators defense some trouble. It’s a group that really falls off after Shea Weber. The loss of Ryan Suter was irrecoverable.
Look for Josh Harding to get the call between the pipes for Minnesota. Harding has been stellar this year and Is making a case for wrestling away more outings from number one goalie, Niklas Backstrom. Meanwhile, for Nashville Pekka Rinne has been his usual solid self, however he has a lengthy history of struggling in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rinne all-time holds a 3.69 GAA and a .863 SV% in the Wild’s home rink, and that’s a trend worth watching tonight.
Expect a close game, but ultimately one in which Minnesota prevails. They play much better at home than on the road, and their three-game losing streak has left a bitter taste in their mouths. Look for the Wild to get back on track in convincing fashion
PICK = Minnesota (-120)