We’re onto my fourth free NHL pick of the night and like I’ve mentioned in the others, I’ll briefly recap my winner from last night featuring the Blues and Oilers from Rogers Place in Edmonton.
I liked the Blues as +128 underdogs despite coming in having played just 24 hours earlier and putting their backup Jake Allen in goal – a guy that’s struggled in the early going this season. He’s struggling no longer, however, as he turned aside 32 of 34 Oilers shots on the night while the Blues built a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. They surrendered a marker midway through the third, however Allen and the Blues held on and while St. Louis added a pair of empty-net tallies to seal the 5-2 win and net us a nice profit in the process.
Season Record: 13-9
My fourth and final pick of the night features the Wild vs. Sharks from the SAP Center in San Jose!
Wild vs. Sharks Betting Odds:
Over 5.5 (-113)
Under 5.5 (+102)
Wild vs. Sharks NHL Pick
The Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks get together tonight in a Western Conference matchup between two teams that need to get things turned around in a hurry.
After missing out on the playoffs last season followed by a quiet offseason, the Wild weren’t expected to be contenders this season. They are pretty much following in that path here through the first portion of the season as Minnesota sits with a 5-9-1 record and sit third-last in the Western Conference as well as dead-last in a tough Central Division.
The problem has been their play on the road. Minnesota is actually playing quite well at home where they are 3-1-1, but they are a dreadful road team with a 2-8-0 mark away from home and it’s not hard to see why.
Minnesota’s offense has been almost non-existent on the road where they rank 30th with just 1.80 goals per game on the season. Their road defense isn’t helping matters either as they are tied with the New Jersey Devils for 23rd with 3.60 goals against per game. As a result, they’ve been out-scored by an average of 1.80 goals per game on the road, the fourth-worst mark in the NHL. Their possession numbers seemingly paint a prettier picture as Minnesota ranks 13th with an even 50% Corsi For% at 5v5 play on the road, but the results simply have not been there.
One reason as to why resides in goal. The Wild rank 26th with an .882 Sv% on the road this season between Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock. For tonight, Stalock is going to get the starting nod as he continues to produce for the Wild with much of the fault landing on the shoulders of Dubnyk. The 32-year-old career backup enters this one sporting a 2.42 GAA and .917 Sv% on the season to go along with one shutout in six starts and eight appearances. However, while he’s posted a brilliant 0.98 GAA and .966 Sv% in a small sample of one starts and two relief appearances at home, Stalock has indeed struggled on the road to the tune of a 3.01 GAA and .898 Sv% on the season in five starts. He is, however coming off a 29-save win over the Ducks in Anaheim on Tuesday night – earning his second consecutive start tonight in the process.
While the Wild didn’t enter the season with a ton of optimism, the Sharks did, and that optimism has been squashed to this point.
After reaching the Western Conference Final last season, the Sharks sit right alongside the Wild with just 11 points on the season, but with one more game played and sit second-last in the west as a result.
The struggles have been at both ends of the ice. San Jose is averaging just 2.50 goals per game this season, good for 26th. They’ve also struggled mightily to keep the puck out of their own net with their 3.63 goals against per game checking in at 28th league wide. The good news is both areas improve some at home. Their goals per game is tied for 25th at an increased 2.86 and their goals against per game improves to 3.14, good for a share of 20th alongside the Ottawa Senators.
Still, neither numbers remain pretty while the Sharks have also struggled to get any sort of goaltending this season from the combination of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. It’s Jones who will get the starting task tonight after he notched his first win in six starts his last time out against the Blackhawks. Jones wasn’t bust in that one but turned aside 19 of 21 shots to earnt he 4-2 win, beginning November on a strong note after posting a poor .890 Sv% in October. For the season, the six-year vet owns a 3.38 GAA and .889 Sv% on the heels of a season in which he posted a disappointing 2.94 GAA and .896 Sv% in 62 outings.
The good news for the Sharks tonight is Jones has been notably better at home where he’s posted a 2.86 GAA and .905 Sv% compared to a ghastly 3.94 GAA and .871 Sv% in six road appearances.
Look, neither team has been any good this season. However, while they’ve been good at home, the Wild have stunk the joint out on the road. For the Sharks, it’s the opposite as things get notably better at home and it’s important to have Jones going where he plays his best tonight.
After the Sharks dropped five games in a row, they got back on the right track in a convincing 4-2 win over the Blackhawks at home. The Wild are also coming off a 4-2 win of their own – on the road – over the Ducks, however they were once again outshot as they have been in four of their last five games.
While the Wild should probably finish somewhere close to the basement of the west, the conventional wisdom has the Sharks picking it up at some point given the talent up and down the roster. They’ll need Jones to be better like he was on Tuesday, and with a home start against an anemic road offense, I like his chances of helping his team earn the win tonight. Give me the home side on the moneyline.