NHL Betting Odds & Picks (Sunday, March 1): Capitals-Wild, Canucks-Blue Jackets & More
Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mikko Koivu
- Michael Leboff has his full Sunday betting guide, highlighting Capitals-Wild and Canucks-Blue Jackets.
- The Wild's goaltending has been a huge concern all season, but should you consider them to beat the Caps?
- See the full betting breakdown below.
Washington Capitals at Minnesota Wild
- Capitals odds: -125
- Wild odds: +105
- Over/Under: 6
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: NBCSN
Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Wild are one point behind the Nashville Predators for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. It may look a little surprising to see Minnesota within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but the reality is that this team has posted terrific 5-on-5 numbers — especially on defense — all season. With such strong play-driving numbers, the Wild were always a threat to climb the table, they just needed to get decent goaltending.
The Wild lead the NHL with a 1.96 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which means that they make life easier on their goaltenders than any other team in the league. Unfortunately, their goaltenders haven’t returned the favor. Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock rank as the second- and third-worst goaltenders in the NHL this season in terms of Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx).
The good news is that Stalock looks like he’s found some form. The 32-year-old netminder has a +0.99 GSAx in his past nine starts. That isn’t an eye-popping number, but it just goes to show that even average goaltending makes the Wild a dangerous team.
The Washington Capitals will provide a stern test for Minnesota’s best-in-class defense. Washington’s offense is prolific, but the Capitals aren’t all that great at driving play and they’ve been in poor form for quite some time, posting a 46.4% expected goals rate and allowing 2.8 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in their last 13 games. Minnesota’s offense isn’t all that scary, but against a suspect defense I like the Wild’s chances in this one.
These odds imply that the Capitals win this game 53.3% of the time, which seems a little high even though the Wild are playing their fourth game in six nights. I think this game is pretty damn close to a coin flip, so I’m backing Minnesota at any number better than +100.
Around the League
The Vancouver Canucks (+125) are the only other team I’ve bet so far. The Canucks fell to the Maple Leafs in Toronto last night, but they are taking on the league’s most banged-up team, the Columbus Blue Jackets (-145) at 7 p.m. ET.
While the Blue Jackets’ strength is their defense, this is such a depleted unit that it’s hard to back them at a number this high. Vancouver isn’t a great possession team, but their offense is flush with talent so I’ve got no issue betting that their talent wins out against a nearly unrecognizable lineup for Columbus.