It’s been a few days since my last set of NHL picks, but I hit a couple of plus-money dogs in the Canucks (+119) and the Canadiens (+120) back on Saturday.
Those winners continued a profitable month of February as I continue to work on digging myself out of that January hole where it seemed I couldn’t catch a break regardless of where I went.
I will continue to stick to my research and look to stay hot in this Wild vs. Ducks NHL pick in a West Division clash from Anaheim!
- Season Record: 15-18
- Units: -3.24
Wild vs Ducks Betting Odds
- Wild (-114)
- Ducks (+103)
- Wild -1.5 (+205)
- Ducks +1.5 (-245)
- Over 5.5 (+104)
- Under 5.5 (-115)
Wild vs. Ducks NHL Pick Breakdown
The Wild surprised to the upside on offense last year as they finished the season ranked 12th in overall offense and sported the league’s 11th-ranked power play as well. After losing some depth in the offseason, especially down the middle, I expected a drop off in production, and that’s been the case so far.
Overall, the Wild rank 24th while averaging just 2.50 goals per game, but look no further than their dismal, last-ranked 6.7% clip on the power play as to why as their 5v5 numbers are quite good.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Wild rank 14th in scoring chances for/60, but also third in high-danger chances for/60 and 10th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.20 goals/60 at 5v5 is right in line with their 2.29 projected mark, but that power play has absolutely destroyed what had the potential to certainly be a top-half offense this season, at least so far.
It’s a man advantage that’s in for some major positive regression, however. The worst mark in the NHL last season was the Senators at 14.2% and the season before it was the Predators at 12.9%. It appears their power play fortunates should at least double moving forward, so expect this offense to start moving up the rankings in a hurry.
That said, it’s been a quiet offense of late, or at least over their last handful of games given the time off due to NHL protocol.
They were blanked by the Kings 4-0 in their return to action after two weeks off on Tuesday while they scored just one goal in two of their previous three before the break.
The likes of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and rookie Kirill Kaprizov are leading the way, but the offense isn’t going to improve much of Zach Parise (five points in 12 games), Marcus Johansson (three points in 10) and Kevin Fiala (three points in nine) can’t find a way to produce up front, although the return of Mats Zuccarello should help kickstart some regression tonight.
Heading into this season, we knew the Wild were going to win on defense given the expected dip in offensive production.
After all, Minnesota was the best defense in the NHL last season going by the underlying metrics, but a 29th-ranked saver percentage thrust them into the league’s bottom 10 overall defenses.
The overall defensive number this season has been decent as they sit 16th while allowing 2.83 goals per game on the season, although their penalty kill has been very strong at 85.1%, good for fifth league wide.
Once again, however, the underlying metrics are elite. At 5v5, the Wild rank sixth in scoring chances against/60, but also first in high-danger chances against/60 and fifth in expected goals against/60. Their 2.67 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 1.89 expected mark, so we should see notable surface-number improvement from this Wild defense moving forward.
The Wild remained without a handful of regulars in their return to action on Tuesday in L.A., but from a defensive picture they will get back two key members of their blueline in captain Jared Spurgeon and shot-blocking machine Ian Cole for this one tonight.
It appears fellow top-six blueline Jonas Brodin will remain on the protocol list, but the returns of Spurgeon and Cole are big additions for this one tonight.
It appears netminder Cam Talbot will remain on the protocol list for this one tonight and Kaapo Kahkonen is likely in for his seven start and eighth appearance of the season.
After posting a 2.96 GAA and .913 Sv% with the Wild in five starts last season, the promising 24-year-old has put forth a 2.90 GAA and .902 Sv% so far this season after surrendering three goals to the Kings in the loss on Tuesday.
Kahkonen also turned in a study 2.07 GAA and .927 Sv% across 34 appearances with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild last season, showing he was at least nearly ready for NHL duty, but with an injury to veteran Alex Stalock to open the season and Talbot’s protocol issues, Kahkonen has been thrust into full-time duty.
He turned aside 22 of 24 shots in a win over the Ducks in his first start of the season back on Jan. 20.
Coming off some severe offenses woes from last season as a team in transition, I certainly didn’t expect much offense from the Ducks again this season, but I’m not sure I expected them to be this bad.
The Ducks sit dead last with just 1.94 goals per game on the season while they too are struggling mightily on the power play at just 8.6%, good for 29th league wide.
It does appear, however, that their 5v5 fortunes should be a little better than what we see on the surface. At 5v5, the Ducks rank 15th in scoring chances for/60, 23rd in high-danger chances for/60 and 16th in expected goals/60. Their 1.98 goals for/60 at 5v5 so far this season is below their 2.12 mark, albeit not by much. Like the Wild, it would appear the Ducks will need much more from their power play before we can expect more offense from them moving forward.
Once again, the Ducks enter a game cold up front as they’ve scored just three times over their last two games and have been held to two goals or fewer in seven of their last 10 games. They’ve also been held to just one regulation goal in five of those 10 games.
Maxime Comtois is one of the few players having a nice season with a team-leading nine points on the campaign, but there has been zero consistency to the league’s worst offense so far this season.
On the surface, the Ducks’ defense is having a quality season. A look under the hood reveals something far different, however.
Overall, the Ducks rank seventh with just 2.56 goals against per game on the season while they too have been excellent on the penalty kill, sitting one spot ahead of the Wild at fifth with an 85.4% mark.
However, at 5v5, the Ducks rank 26th in scoring chances against/60, 21st in high-danger chances against/60 and 24th in expected goals against/60 on the season. That said, their 2.20 actual goals against/60 on the season is more or less in line with their 2.31 expected mark, but as a group, this Ducks blueline has been among the worst in the league.
With a reliable defender in Josh Manson out of the lineup, shot-blocking machine Jani Hakanpaa has been thrust into a top-four role while Ben Hutton — signed after the beginning of the season — skates on the bottom pair of Jacob Larsson.
That said, Hampus Lindholm is the only true reliable defender for this Ducks team and is easily the club’s No.1 overall defender at the moment.
Goaltender John Gibson has bounced back and is once again enjoying a big season after struggling through a career-worst season in 2019-20.
On the heels of posting a 3.00 GAA and .904 Sv% last season — both career-worst figures — Gibson has bounced back to the tune of a 2.33 GAA and .921 Sv% across 13 starts on the campaign, but is just 5-5-3 given the lack of offensive support.
It’s a small sample, but Gibson has so far been much better on the road than at home, posting a 1.88 GAA and .934 Sv% on the road in seven outings while working to a 2.92 GAA and .905 Sv% in six appearances at the Honda Center this season.
You can also chalk up plenty of that stout Ducks penalty kill to Gibson as Anaheim ranks third with a .912 Sv% on the penalty kill this season while Gibson himself sports a rather unsustainable .923 Sv% while shorthanded this season.
The Wild don’t exactly pose a major threat when it comes to the power play at last in the league, but it appears it’s going to be awfully difficult for Gibson to sustain his fantastic work so far this season.
Wild vs. Ducks NHL Pick
A couple of low-scoring teams always makes the under awfully tempting as we’re dealing with two of worst eight offenses in the league judging by the overall figures.
That said, while I trust the Wild, I don’t trust this Ducks back end to sustain what they’ve worked to so far this season. Their defensive work has been among the worst in the business and while Gibson has largely bailed them out, he’s not going to be able to sustain his work if his team continues to allow chances at the rate they have so far this season.
I would also suggest we have a couple of power plays due to regress positively, especially the Wild who actually have some excellent talent on their units while the Ducks lag in that department.
I’ll admit that Gibson gives the Ducks the goaltending advantage over Kahkonen, but the youngster has been solid and this is a fine opportunity to improve his numbers on the season.
The better team here is the Wild, and after getting a game under their belt from a two-week break, I believe they are in line for a moneyline victory at what I believe are quite reasonable odds.