I haven’t fired out a pick in several days now, since hitting my Blackhawks pick on the moneyline last Friday with a 3-2 overtime win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. The win didn’t come without a little sweat, however it pulled us closer to even on the season with my NHL picks.
Season Record: 7-7
I have one pick going on tonight’s NHL schedule featuring the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators from Bridgestone Arena in Music City.
Wild vs. Predators Betting Odds:
Over 6.0 (+100)
Under 6.0 (-120)
Wild vs. Predators NHL Pick
It’s a Central Division rivalry matchup tonight between the Wild and Predators with Minnesota coming into this one playing their best hockey of the season.
After a horrid start, Bruce Boudreau’s club has rattled off back-to-back wins over the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers, wins that came after winger Jason Zucker called out his entire team including his head coach. Apparently the criticism was well-received as the win over the Oilers was particularly impressive in shutout fasion by a 3-0 count while the club outshot the Oilers 30-25 and were a perfect 2 for 2 on the penalty kill and scored on one of their three power play opportunities.
The win was their third in their last five games, but that also accounts for all three wins on the season as Minnesota will enter this one sporting a 3-6-0 mark on the season, good for last in the Western Conference and ahead of only the Red Wings, Rangers and Senators in the entire NHL. The issues have been widespread. Despite scoring seven times over their last two games, Minnesota ranks 29th with just 2.33 goals per game on the season while their 3.56 goals against per game checks in at a tie for 27th alongside the San Jose Sharks. They’ve scored three power play goals over their last two games, but rank 20th with a 18.2% mark on the man advantage while their penalty kill also sits in the bottom-half of the league at a share of 18th with a 77.4% mark. Finally, the Wild are getting beaten in the possession game at even strength as well as their 49.4% Corsi For% at even strength ranks 20th league wide.
Getting the nod in goal tonight will be Alex Stalock who came in to help complete the shutout of the Oilers on Tuesday after Devan Dubnyk departed the contest with an upper-body injury. The Wild are being outshot on average this season, but just by 1.1 shots per game while their goaltending has largely let them down. Stalock has largely been the better of the two Wild netminders this season, entering play with a 1.63 GAA and .942 Sv% across two starts and four appearances on the season. However, in his two starts this season, one has come against the league-worst Ottawa Senators as he turned aside all 26 shots he faced in that one for a 2-0 win. His next start didn’t go nearly as well as he allowed four goals on 33 shots to the Canadiens (.879 Sv%) in a losing effort. He’s also been solid in his two relief appearances, stopping 26 of 27 shots in that time. Truth be told, the sample size is small here with Stalock, but we do know he’s coming off a rough 2.99 GAA and .899 SV% from a season ago across 21 appearances.
For the Predators, it’s largely been an up-and-down season that has largely been void of any type of consistency.
Their 5-3-1 record is solid through nine games, good for second in a difficult Central Division. However, they’ve also lost games to the Red Wings, Sharks and Panthers, two of which are outside the playoffs while the Panthers sit in the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
That said, they’re certainly coming into this one on a high. The Predators avenged their 3-2 shootout loss to the Panthers with a blowout of the Ducks on Tuesday, thumping a quality Anaheim defense to the tune of a 6-1 score. The Predators’ young season has also included victories over the Golden Knights and Capitals, a couple of Stanley Cup-contending clubs.
They’ll enter tonight’s contest as the NHL’s best offense right now with 4.22 goals per game. The issue – which is atypical for this Predators franchise – has been on the back end where they’ve allowed 3.44 goals per game. However, after a real rocky start defensively, Nashville has been much better in goal-prevention of late. Over their last four games, they’ve allowed two goals or less three times. Keep in mind they already have one win over the Wild this season – a thorough 5-2 victory to open the season while out-shooting Minnesota by a 32-24 count.
Getting the nod in goal tonight will be Pekka Rinne who has been real good this season while backup Juuse Saros has been responsible for all three regulation losses the Preds have endured this season. Rinne enters this one sporting a 2.31 GAA and .921 Sv5 on the season to go along with his sparkling 5-0-1 record. Over his last three starts, he’s 2-0-1 with a .946 Sv%.
I don’t think we need to overthink this one. The Wild have been better, yes, but this team has all the markings of a non-contender and should finish the season somewhere near the basement of the Western Conference, especially in a tough division like the Central. The Predators have long been a good home team and their No.1 goaltender is feeling it right now. Instead of laying a ton of juice on the moneyline, I’m going to some more reasonable odds and take the home side to win this one in regulation tonight at -115.