Who is in 1st place overall in the NHL? The Penguins? The Bruins? The Blackhawks? Wrong on all accounts. That place belongs to none other than the Nashville Predators. The Preds have finally added an offense this season to go along with a strong defense. The combination results in a team that sits a atop the league and is looking to make an impact in the playoffs. The Predators have been a playoff team in the past, but definitely not at the level they are playing at now. Even though they are in 1st place, there is a sense that they are going to be underdogs in the playoffs. When there are big teams that people find more recognizable, the Preds may not get a fair perception heading into the post-season. I am hear to say that the Predators are a very good team not to be taken lightly. A team doesn’t wind up 41-13-2 because of a few lucky bounces. Not only that, the Preds have been virtually unbeatable at home with a record of 26-3.
The Wild are the same as the Predators, in the sense that they don’t get much recognition. Do they deserve it as much as the Preds do? No they don’t, that goes without saying. However, this is a good team the beat a hot Avalanche roster last year in the playoffs and continue to perform this season. The Wild enter tonight with a mark of 31-22-5, so they do have the playoffs on their minds, rightfully so. It will be a tall order to make it further than they did last season, the second round of the playoffs, but if they get hot at the right time who knows. It seems like the NHL playoffs is all about getting hot at the right time, and I don’t think we can make an exception with the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota Wild @ Nashville Predators
If you want to find the last time the Predators lost at home, you’ll need to go back to February 5th against the Anaheim Ducks. That was only the third time a team was able to upend them at home. The Wild are 14-14 on the road thus far this season, so they have a lot of work to do in front of them. The Predators are making it work on both ends of the ice. This season they have significantly improved the offense. The Preds are 6th in the NHL in scoring with 2.95 goals per game. Now take a look at last season, where Nashville ranked 19th in the NHL in scoring. Quite the turnaround and it is a reflection of why they are 1st in the NHL overall. This really isn’t the same Predators we have known from the last ten years. If you haven’t watched the Preds play this season, I invite you to watch a game, because the difference between then and now is pretty startling, in a good way that is.
The Wild have found it hard on offense this season. Ranked 25th in the NHL, they are scoring only 2.43 goals per game. The Preds are allowing only 2.26 goals a game, so they should find it hard on offense in Nashville tonight. They’ve also allowed only 1.90 goals over their last ten games. I look at this line and I think that it should be higher than it is. I rarely play teams with prices above -150, but I also like to look for value, and I think the Predators at -155 at home is value.
PICK: PREDATORS TO WIN (-155) 5Dimes.eu – Best Odds