After a couple of weeks of either enduring losses or break-even results with my free NHL picks, I finally got back on track with a 3-1 night on Friday. Since it was two days ago now, I will only briefly touch on those results.
The only loss on the night came with the Maple Leafs as -155 favorites in Buffalo. It’s tough to lose a pick when the team you bet on scores four goals, but that was the case as Michael Hutchinson’s NHL struggles continued as the Leafs dropped a 6-4 decision in Buffalo.
However, it was all uphill from there. The Philadelphia Flyers blew about the visiting Red Wings by a 6-1 score, easily hitting my Flyers -1.5 pick at -110 odds, the San Jose Sharks handily defeated the Los Angeles Kings by a 4-1 score at -146 and the St. Louis Blues indeed pulled off the road upset in Dallas with a 3-1 victory over the Stars as substantial +140 underdogs.
It was real nice to get back on the winning track in a big way and I’ll look to continue that success on this three-game Sunday schedule!
Season Record: 32-28
Let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Stars vs. Wild from the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota!
Stars vs. Wild Betting Odds
- Stars (-113)
- Wild (+102)
- Stars -1.5 (+250)
- Wild +1.5 (-300)
- Over 5 (-123)
- Under 5 (+112)
Stars vs. Wild NHL Pick Breakdown
The Stars rattled off seven straight wins before dropping each of their last two games while scoring just one goal in that time against the Blackhawks and aforementioned Blues.
Some regression on their white-hot stretch of play was to be expected. Dallas averaged 4.14 goals per game during that winning streak, an unsustainable number for any team, especially for this Dallas team that struggled mightily to produce offense earlier in the season and ranked among the worst offenses in the game a season ago.
While you aren’t going to beat anybody averaging a half-goal per game, what’s more concerning for this team during their mini losing skid as been their play on the back end.
Giving up three goals per game – as they did in each of the last two – isn’t a horrible number by any stretch, however a Stars team that ranks 10th with 30.9 shots against per game this season has allowed 38 per game over their last two.
The underlying numbers paint a prettier picture, however. While their sub-47% Corsi over the last two games isn’t ideal, the Stars have actually won the scoring chance battle and the high-danger scoring chances battle with marks of 52.85% and 53.97%, respectively. Shooting exactly 0% in high-danger chances has been their downfall over the last two contests. According to expected goals for and against in that time, the Stars should have actually outscored their opponents 5.48 to 5.03 in that time at 5v5 play.
Of course, this remains one of the very best defenses in the league. Dallas’ 2.37 goals against per game on the season is the third-best mark in the NHL and their 2.77 goals against per game sits in a share of fifth place alongside the Vegas Golden Knights. They do, however, sport a -4.8 average shot differential on the road and their 47.66% Corsi For% at 5v5 ranks 18th.
However, most of Dallas’ advanced numbers on the road are among the best in the NHL.
Their 52.15% scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) at 5v5 on the road ranks third in the league while their 54.64% high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%) ranks third.
The Stars haven’t confirmed a starting goaltender for this one tonight, but I would assume it would be Ben Bishop given we aren’t dealing with a back-to-back scenario this afternoon.
I won’t base my pick on their goalie decision, however, and the fact of the matter is that both Bishop and Anton Khudobin have been very good this season. In fact, Khudobin’s 2.43 GA and .928 Sv% on the road this season is superior to Bishop’s 2.85 GAA and .909 Sv%.
This season has been a tale of two seasons for the Wild.
On one hand they have gone a brutal 5-10-2 on the road this season. On the other, they have posted an impressive 6-1-2 mark on home ice and are coming off a 7-2 beatdown of the Ottawa Senators at home from Friday night.
On the road, the Wild rank 25th with just 2.51 goals per game, however they rank fourth with 3.89 goals per game on home ice this season.
While they got off to a bad start and aren’t good on the road, the Wild actually sport some of the best advanced stats in the league in the categories that involve scoring chances, especially at home at 5v5 play.
Defensively, the Wild have improved dramatically of late. Over their last eight games, the Wild have allowed just 2.50 goals against per game. At home, they are a middle-of-the-pack defense with 2.78 goals against per game, as is their .908 Sv% at home.
Like the Stars, the Wild haven’t announced a starter in goal for this one tonight. Kaapo Kahkonen won his NHL debut on Tuesday against the Devils while Alex Stalock won Friday’s outing against the Senators, each allowing two goals apiece.
While Devan Dubnyk remains away from the team while dealing with a family issue, Stalock haas made five of the six starts in his absence and the Wild are also not involved in any sort of back-to-back in this one.
As a result, I would expect Stalock to carry his stout 1.48 GAA and .950 Sv% at home into this one, however given the lack of confirmation I won’t factor this much into my pick tonight.
The Wild are playing much better hockey of late and the Stars enter this one having witnessed their expected regression over the last two games. The Wild are underdogs despite being 6-1-2 at home against a Stars team that is 6-6-1 on the road.
While there’s an argument to be made on both sides of this one, I can’t help but notice that low goal total.
I mean, I personally haven’t seen a five-goal total to this point in the season. Sure, the Stars are a quality defense, but they allow 0.77 more goals per game on the road than they do at home and are taking on a Wild team that are among the league’s best offensive home teams with 3.89 goals per game at home.
The Wild still allow 2.77 goals per game at home and they have the sixth-ranked home power play and are tied for 19th in home penalty killing.
If Stalock does indeed start, I would expect regression on his unsustainable numbers at home that very mentioned above. If not, we have backup who has played all of one game in the NHL.
There’s certainly ways the total can go over here. However, at just five goals, all we’ll need is a 2-2 game to guarantee at least a push. A 2-2 game is definitely a low-scoring game by today’s standards.
I’ll simply take the over here and look to exploit the suppressed goal total.