NHL Odds & Pick for Sharks vs. Wild: Both Offenses Will Thrive in West Division Matchup (Friday, April 16)
Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mats Zuccarello.
- The Sharks look to hand the Wild their first home loss of the season on Friday night.
- San Jose has struggled to convert their scoring chances this season, but a matchup with the Wild’s shaky defense might be what it needs.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the factors that have him backing the over.
Sharks vs. Wild Odds
|Time||Friday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel|
The San Jose Sharks will visit the Xcel Energy Center looking to end their three-game slide against a talented Minnesota squad. The Wild, meanwhile, look to build on their dominant 15-4-0 home record this season.
The Sharks are still alive in the West Division playoff race, sitting four points back of the St. Louis Blues’ 44 points for the final spot, each with 42 games played so far. Arizona is also in the mix, with 43 points in 44 games.
San Jose’s three-game losing streak comes as a huge missed opportunity, taking zero points from the bottom-two teams in the division and being outscored 12-3. The underlying numbers suggest that possibly they deserved better, but a combination of poor goaltending, sloppy defensive zone miscues and failing to capitalize on offensive chances led to some very poor results.
The Sharks certainly could be due to fare better offensively, as they sit a combined -6.34 goals below expected over the last three games albeit against weak competition. It will be interesting to see if they can break through offensively against a strong Minnesota defense core.
Martin Jones will likely start for San Jose, with a .900 save percentage on the season and -12.6 goals saved above expected rating, according to Moneypuck.
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.
Minnesota comes into this game having notched a 5-2 win against Arizona on Wednesday. Mats Zuccarello continued his renaissance season, tallying two power-play goals and bringing his point total to 24 in 28 games. The Wild power play came through with three tallies in the contest but has been their greatest area of concern so far in what has been a very consistent campaign.
The Wild sit 25th in power play percentage so far this season with a 17.1% conversion rate. Minnesota is still good for a 13th-ranked goals per game rate. If the Wild can find a way to continue recent results on the power play, it would certainly put them inside the top 10 in goals scored and give them a much better chance at making some noise come playoff time.
Minnesota sits with a large nine-point gap between them and fourth-place St. Louis, but it is seven points behind the powerhouse that is the Vegas Golden Knights. Barring a surprising Golden Knights push to pass Colorado for the top of the division (22.4% chance of that happening, according to Moneypuck), we are very likely looking at a tremendous first-round matchup between the Wild and Golden Knights.
Minnesota will likely start Cam Talbot in this one, who owns a .923 save percentage so far this year and a 4.2 goals saved above expected rating, per Moneypuck.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Minnesota already sits with a 13th-ranked goals per game ranking on the season, and I like its chances to build on that number here against a Sharks team that is certainly going to give up a good share of chances against.
San Jose has given up a bottom five ranked xGA/60 of 2.61 over the last 10 games but is actually getting the better of the play with a high xGF/60 rate of 2.97. However, the Sharks have not capitalized often enough on these chances offensively and goaltending continues to let them down. The Sharks are likely due for some positive regression offensively, with some reasonable scoring talent in the lineup yet sitting -6.34 goals below their expected rate over the last 3 contests.
This feels to me like a spot where we could see a San Jose team clinging to life in the playoff race find a way to break through some offensive woes, but I just do not trust their goaltending or the team’s sloppy defensive zone play enough to back them against a strong Minnesota group.
I like the over 5.5 at -113 in this one.
Pick: Over 5.5