Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild Odds, Pick, Prediction: Blackhawks’ Slide Will Continue
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Minnesota Wild standout Kirill Kaprizov.
Blackhawks at Wild Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.|
The Wild came in to the United Center and produced a dominant 5-1 win over the Blackhawks Friday, and will look to generate a similar result in St. Paul here for the second leg of the home-and-home set.
Wild Rebounded After Winter Classic Loss
Since being embarrassed at home in the Winter Classic against St. Louis for their fifth consecutive defeat, Minnesota have answered with a resounding 4-0-1 stretch, including wins over Boston and Washington, plus a hard-fought shootout loss to Colorado.
The Wild have a deep roster, with a number of very irritating two-way forwards insulating the spectacular play of Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, and Ryan Hartman on the top trio.
That top line can go head to head with names like Patrick Kane, and Alex Debrincat offensively, but the Wild simply hold way more in behind, and I just do not feel that these clubs are anywhere as close to each other as some recent results might suggest.
Joel Eriksson Ek offers a tremendous option down the middle, and offers a true shutdown line to play head-to-head with top opposition forwards alongside Marcus Foligno and Jordan Greenway, composing what has to be one of the more unpleasant lines to play against in the league.
The Wild have produced a solid 52.4 xGF% over this five game hot stretch and the lineup is growing healthier and healthier. I think results closer to what we saw all of last season and much of this year are much more likely than the five game slump culminating in that tough Winter Classic loss.
Kaapo Kahkonen has been confirmed as the Wild starter, and will look to post a similar result to what we saw last night in Chicago here in a rare back-to-back spot.
Kahkonen has been solid so far this season, posting a +2.0 goals saved above expected rating with a .918 save % throughout 12 games played.
Blackhawks’ Good Run Was Unsustainable
For Chicago this two game losing streak seemed well past due, after what was somewhat of a lucky run of results coming against soft competition and in favorable spots, and in very close contests to boot.
In turn they entered Friday’s game overvalued, skating against a Wild group simply holding far more talent top to bottom this season.
Behind Kane and Debrincat, the Hawks really do not hold much in the way of offensive talent, and a 2.17 xGF/60 over their last six games is far from strong, especially when looking towards the competition faced, and allowing more in their end to combine for a 48.45 xGF%.
That stretch included wins coming over Columbus, which has come crashing down to earth after a strong start, a still insanely-depleted Montreal team that took Chicago to overtime and lost on a controversial winner, and the Ducks, who entered on a road back-to-back, playing without most of their better forwards.
I still think this team has been far from good under Derek King, and they have just done an excellent job of hanging around in very low-event games, and winning past regulation in 3 on 3 or a shootout.
That’s far better than where this team was, and obviously count the same handicapping wise, but I still do not feel this team is anywhere a true playoff team like Minnesota, as much as their record under King suggests.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s resurgence (behind better defensive play nonetheless) has been a huge part of the stabilization, but it seems the Blackhawks will go with Kevin Lankinen here (not that Fleury was able to stop the Wild’s onslaught last night anyways).
Lankinen holds a -12.8 goals saved above expected rating and an .884 save % throughout 11 games played this season.
Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Pick
For several weeks now I have had Chicago pegged as a team due for regression, and I loved last night’s game as a spot for a truly strong Minnesota Wild club to come in and expose the Blackhawks.
As alluded to, the Blackhawks have simply fared extremely well in close games under Derek King, and in games past regulation.
We won’t be seeing anywhere near the same prices we saw close to puck-drop last night (somewhere in the -115 range), but for good reason here, as the Wild hold a considerably more potent offensive attack, while Chicago have mainly just tried to hang around in close games under King.
That did not work out for Chicago last night, and I feel it’s likely we see a similar result Saturday in St. Paul, with Minnesota’s considerably deeper and more talented roster able to comfortably control this Hawks team which has too few above average offensive pieces to skate with the Wild.
Pick: Wild to win in regulation -130 (Play to -150)