Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers Betting Odds and Picks: Polar Opposites on Ice

Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers Betting Odds and Picks: Polar Opposites on Ice article feature image
Credit:

Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Mats Zuccarello

  • How should you bet a game involving the Wild's stingy defense and the Rangers' strong offense?
  • The Rangers are due to regress, and Monday night may be a good time to bet against them.

Wild at Rangers Odds

  • Wild odds: -110
  • Rangers odds: -110
  • Over/Under: 6
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

Monday night features a game between two polar opposites — the stingy Minnesota Wild and the fire-wagon New York Rangers.

By most metrics, the Minnesota Wild are the best defensive team in the NHL. Bruce Boudreau’s team leads the league in expected goals allowed (1.87) and high-danger chances against (7.9) per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.

That’s nothing new for Minnesota, which led the NHL in both of those metrics in 2018-19. Unfortunately, the Wild’s mediocre record isn’t new either. The Wild missed the postseason last season and they didn’t sparkle through the first quarter of 2019-20, either.

Still, a 9-11-3 record won’t sink the season, and Minnesota’s peripheral metrics — especially its 53.8% expected goals share — suggest Boudreau has himself a solid hockey team.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

So why is a team with such strong underlying numbers struggling? Goaltending.

What’s even more frustrating is that the Wild’s defense is doing everything it can to make life easy on its netminders. Only one other goalie (min. 300 minutes played) has had an easier workload, in terms of expected save percentage, than Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock, Minnesota’s struggling cage-keepers.

Through 13 games, Dubnyk has a -12.76 Goals Saved Above Expectations (GSAx), which is the second-worst mark in the league, and Stalock is 11th from the bottom with a -6.4 GSAx. In other words, the Wild’s goaltenders have cost them nearly 20 goals this season.

The Wild are built to win low-scoring games, unfortunately their goaltenders are not holding up their end of the bargain.

Conversely, the New York Rangers aren’t interested in low-scoring games. The Rangers were last seen erasing a 4-0 deficit in a 6-5 win over Montreal on Saturday night. The Blueshirts are now a very respectable 10-9-2 on the season but a look under the hood reveals some serious cracks, especially on defense.

The Rangers allow the most expected goals and high-danger chances against per 60 minutes in the NHL. If they didn’t have the league’s best shooting percentage at 5-on-5, the Blueshirts would be a lot further down the standings.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.

Expected goal share (xG%) has proven to be a good predictor of success in hockey and the Rangers currently own the worst xG% in the league at 43.3%. If the Rangers can’t find a way to improve that number, the wheels are going to fly off.

These odds imply that this game is a coin flip. Since the Rangers are the home team, that tells you that Minnesota would be a favorite on neutral ice. I agree with that notion, but I actually believe the Wild should be a shorter favorite on Monday, especially with New York playing its fourth game in six nights.

The Wild won’t shoot the lights out and their goaltending scares the bejeezus out of me, but Minnesota should be able to contain a Rangers’ offense that is screaming for regression. I’d play Minnesota at -120 or better.

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]