Jets vs. Wild NHL Odds & Pick: Winnipeg Has Value to Get First Win (October 19)
Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikolaj Ehlers
Jets at Wild Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
As many sports fans can attest, the start of the season can be either kind, or downright cruel to certain teams. Having come off polar opposite starts to their seasons, division rivals Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets are set to square off at Xcel Energy Center.
Coming into the season, Winnipeg had some high expectations. After sweeping the Oilers in the Round 1 of last year’s postseason, and making a few upgrades in the offseason, the Jets are a trendy sleeper pick. They struggled in their first two games, however, losing to both the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks.
For Wild fans, it’s finally time to get excited about their team, and their start has shown it by going 2-0. With a few upgrades on the blue line, Minnesota is looking to build off their early success and make a bigger dent in the Central Division.
On paper, you could say the Jets have one of the deepest teams in the league. Forwards Mark Scheifele, captain Blake Wheeler (who is now on the COVID protocol list), Kyle Connor, and Nikolaj Ehlers are all supremely gifted players, but for one reason or another, Winnipeg struggles to drive play.
Heading into Tuesday’s bout, the Jets have a bottom-10 expected goals rate at 44.68 (xGF%) and that’s not far off where they were the past two seasons. However, given the talent up front, I can’t help but feel bullish on them moving forward. The four aforementioned players are always a threat to pot 60 points a season, and it’s hard to imagine they continue their struggles.
For the past two years, Winnipeg’s defense has been their Achilles’ heel. However, this past offseason, they bolstered their back end by adding veterans Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt. For the most part, the defense has done their job, allowing only 15 high danger scoring chances.
With the new additions to the blue line, I expect that number to continue to stay down as chemistry builds. Former Vezina trophy winner, Connor Hellebuyck, hasn’t played like his normal self. He has started with an .849 SV% and a -1.6 Goals Save Above Expected (GSAx), which is gravely disappointing for the American net-minder. Look for him to recover from his very slow start.
The Wild are one of the most fascinating teams in the NHL to watch. Russian sensation (and Calder Trophy winner) Kirill Kaprizov is really giving the State of Hockey something to rave about.
Along with Kaprizov, young forwards like Kevin Fiala, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Jordan Greenway are all key parts of this core. Minnesota has been a top 3 team in driving play in the early going with a 64.05 xGF%, as well as creating 18 high danger chances. The high-danger chances may be low for the time being, but if they continue to drive play the way they have been known to, those chances will only continue to build.
Goaltender Cam Talbot has been superb to start the season. Heading into each season, you never know what you’re going to get with Talbot, but his great start is a positive sign moving forward.
He’s been an absolute stonewall with a GSAx of 2.3 (9th best), and a .950 SV%, and will continue to give teams fits. The Wild’s defense has held up fairly well in front of Talbot, as well, by only allowing 15 high-danger scoring chances so far. I fully expect Minnesota’s defensive numbers to rise and for them to solidify themselves as one of the top defensive teams in the league.
Jets vs. Wild Pick
I think this could be a fun bet. Winnipeg has the ability to pack a punch with their depth and a goalie with a proven track record. It will be interesting to see how they come out, and if they stumble out the gate, like they have in their past two games.
Minnesota is too exciting to take your eyes off of. Kaprizov is a one man show, and he has a solid foundation of players around him, and Talbot has been a rock for them in net.
I’m very confident on both teams, but I think Winnipeg has to break their slump tonight.
Pick: Winnipeg Jets +130