Montreal Canadiens meet the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota Wild meet the Montreal Canadiens. You’ll get along. If you follow hockey, you understand the correlation between the Canadiens and Wild. Both of their seasons are going in the gutter, after such good starts. Last night the Habs were downed by the Sabres, 4-2 at home. As far as Minnesota, I know there was some chatter earlier that this was going to be the year that the Wild finally beat the Blackhawks in the postseason. About that. The Wild are going to be hard pressed to find the playoffs given their inability to get out of this hole. They dug a small hole, and now they are going to soon be in a hole they can’t find their way out of. At 23-18-7, the Wild are still alive, but their pulse is beginning to fluctuate. The way they were playing, a break is just what they needed to recharge the batteries. The Wild, however, began right where they left off, with another loss to open the second half. Their latest loss came against the New York Islanders, and now the Rangers will be looking to add another loss to a New York team on their resume.
The Rangers are 5-5 in their last ten games, so things haven’t been so peachy for them either. Although, it sure sounds better than the Wild 2-8 mark in their last ten outings. The Rangers have been without Rick Nash since January 21st, so there is some production lost. In the case of the Wild, they haven’t had any injuries to really speak of. They just haven’t been playing good hockey at all. They are a team with little confidence who needs to get their mojo back. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, fresh of his first ever appearance in an All-Star game, got hammered by the Islanders for 5 goals. I do wonder if the All-Star selection will get to his head a bit. This is a guy who couldn’t stop a beach ball in Edmonton, then comes to Minnesota and becomes an All-Star. In any case, I believe the Wild season will ultimately be decided by the play of Dubnyk in net. He’ll look to bounce back on the road after the Islanders took care of him fairly easily the other night. Let’s get to the pick.
Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers NHL Pick
The Wild had a nice surge in the second half of last season, we’ll see if they can duplicate it again in 2016. While the Rangers haven’t been dominant lately, this will be a test for the Wild tonight. Note that the Rangers are 18-5-2 at home. They are the best home team in the league. Conversely, the Wild are 9-10-5 on the road and are on a road trip away from home. Further, the Rangers are coming off a hard loss to the Devils on the road, 3-2. There has been little sign of offense for the Wild. During their 2-8 run in the last ten games, the Wild have scored 1.60 goals per game. Five times they were held to 1 goal or none.
Since going 16-3-2 to start the season, the Rangers have gone 11-14-3. Lundqvist has seen his GAA rise steadily, as he currently holds a 2.43 GAA. However, the discrepancy of success for these teams on the road and at home has been well documented. Also, it has been that way when they play. The home team has gone 4-1 in their last five meetings. The Wild have beaten the Rangers only once at Madison Square Garden in the last ten games. After blowing two leads against the Devils, I think they get back on track tonight. I have been burned by the Rangers twice in the last month. If they do it again at home here, I may just have to blacklist them until they show signs of the former Rangers squad. In any event, they are mighty tough to beat at home, and the Wild are in a tailspin. The Rangers it is for Thursday night.
PICK: RANGERS TO WIN -120