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NHL Game 2 Odds, Picks & Preview for Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights: Why Minnesota May Have Value as Underdog (Tuesday, May 18)

NHL Game 2 Odds, Picks & Preview for Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights: Why Minnesota May Have Value as Underdog (Tuesday, May 18) article feature image

Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Talbot

  • Minnesota looks to win Game 2 on Tuesday and sweep both road games before returning home.
  • Vegas is once again a decent favorite with -165 odds and Marc-Andre Fleury in net.
  • Michael Leboff explains below why you shouldn't buy into the whole "must-win" narrative with the Knights.

Wild vs. Golden Knights Game 2 Odds

Wild Odds +141
Golden Knights Odds -165
Over/Under 5.5
Time Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday and via DraftKings

Game 1 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild featured two of the best goaltending performances we will likely see for the entire postseason. Minnesota’s Cam Talbot made 42 saves in a shutout win, while Marc-Andre Fleury allowed one goal on 30 shots and made a half-dozen 10-bell stops.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the performances we saw from Talbot and Fleury but it’s hard to imagine we’ll see another 0-0 game go to overtime for Game 2.

Speaking of Game 2, the Knights are once again decent favorites at -165. Vegas closed at -152 for Game 1, but the team was missing first-line winger and leading goal-scorer Max Pacioretty for the opener. Pacioretty’s status for Tuesday night is unclear and likely won’t be known until closer to puck drop.

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What Did We Learn from Game 1? 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs test you in a lot of ways as a bettor. Bankroll management, self-control and not getting swept up in the hype are all very important if you are looking to set yourself up for success over the two-month grind. One of the best ways to do that is to drown out the noise from the previous game. For instance, the narrative after the series-opener between Vegas and Minnesota is that the Wild “stole” the victory. I disagree with that notion.

Sure, Minnesota was outshot by a wide margin, especially in the first period, but the Wild are never really fussed about giving up a high volume of shots. During the regular season Minnesota had a 46.8% shot attempt share, but a 52.5% expected goals rate at 5-on-5. That tells you the Wild were regularly out-attempted at even strength, but they were generating the lion’s share of quality scoring chances. This trend held true in Game 1.

While Vegas attempted 21 more shots, the expected goals were basically dead even, which tells you that Minnesota’s quality-over-quantity approach was working.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Wild vs. Golden Knights Best Bet

I thought the Wild were a good bet in Game 1 at +138. Minnesota’s 5-on-5 defense always makes it an appealing bet as an underdog and that was especially true with Pacioretty out for the Knights. The Wild are one of the league’s best teams at preventing high-danger opportunities so the Knights will need to make good on the ones they create. Losing Pacioretty — or even the fact that he’s not 100% — dings them there.

Though we don’t know whether Pacioretty will play on Tuesday, I’m assuming he will be in for the Knights. Even so, I see very little value backing Vegas at the current price. This number would have to move quite a bit for me to start to get interested in backing Vegas in Game 2. Same goes for betting the Knights to win the series at -108.

Admittedly, Vegas is the better team in this contest, but the prices are still out of whack in a matchup that is closer than it appears on paper and one that has been tilted towards Minnesota all season.

The Wild have been betting darlings this whole season so it wouldn’t surprise me if this number stays put or even drops, but I’m assuming that most bettors will flock to the Knights due to the “must-win” effect. I think Minnesota is already worth a bet at the current number, but I’m going to keep my eye on this one and see if this price ticks up if/when we get word on Pacioretty.

Pick: Minnesota +135 or better

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