NHL Betting Picks: Blues vs. Wild Game 1 Odds, Prediction (May 2)
Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Pavel Buchnevich
- The Wild host the Blues in Game 1 on Monday as short home favorites.
- Can the Blues' explosive offense steal the series opener on the road?
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Blues vs. Wild Game 1 Odds
|Series Moneyline||STL +130/MIN -150|
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The St. Louis Blues will travel to St. Paul for a date with the Minnesota Wild in what is one of the most anticipated first round playoff series.
Both of these teams feature a wealth of offensive upside, with each finishing among the top five in Goals For per game production this season.
Both of these clubs were also scorching hot over the final two months of the season, and one of these elite hockey clubs will head home early after this series.
Minnesota currently sits at -150 to take the series and -140 to claim Game 1 at home. Are the Wild worthy of such a price?
|Stat||St. Louis Blues||Minnesota Wild|
|Goals For per 60 minutes (5-on-5)||3||3.2|
|Goals Against per 60 (5-on-5)||2.6||2.3|
|Expected Goals per 60 (5-on-5)||2.4||2.5|
|Expected Goals Against per 60 (5-on-5)||2.7||2.1|
|High-Danger Scoring Chances per 60 (5-on-5)||10.2||10.8|
|High-Danger Scoring Chances Allowed per 60 (5-on-5)||11.6||9.5|
|Power Play %||26.5%||20.9%|
|Penalty Kill %||84.4%||75.7%|
|Save Percentage (projected starting goalie)||.921||.907|
|Goals Saved Above Expectation (projected starting goalie)||+16.3||-13.5|
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.
Blues’ Elite Offense Enters the Playoffs in Great Form
St. Louis finished the regular season on a 14-2-2 tear while generating offense at a scary rate with a 4.72 Goals For per game during that 18-game tear. The Blues fared far better during that stretch of play than we saw most of this season, as they played to a 53.27 xGF%.
St. Louis features one of the deepest top three lines in hockey and will enter this series at full strength.
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou have both taken big steps forward this season, and both surpassed the point per game mark. Pavel Buchnevich has been nothing short of a game-breaker himself since coming over from New York, posting 76 points in 73 games this season. Vlad Tarasenko has bounced back with 82 points in 75 games played, and veterans Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, and Brayden Schenn have remained very solid.
The Blues are fantastic at completing slot passes and creating shooting chances for their wealth of snipers by not allowing the goalie to be fully set. Consequently, they led the league with a +54.48 Goals Scored Above Expected mark.
The Blues’ biggest flaw is on defense, but we have seen them improve in that regard down the stretch to more middling numbers.
The main concern has been the play from a number of depth defenders who have struggled badly. This is why the addition of Nick Leddy at the deadline could be so crucial.
It’s also possible that the Blues hold an advantage in goal in this series with what we have seen from Ville Husso this season. His lack of playoff experience is a concern, but his +13.5 Goals Saved Above Expected rating and .919 save percentage in 40 games played are eye-popping numbers. And as we saw during Jordan Binnington’s tear in 2019, just because someone lacks experience does not mean he will falter in the playoffs.
Wild Look to Continue Dominating at Home
Minnesota has followed up its fantastic campaign in 2020-21 with an even better 2021-22 season, managing a franchise-best 53 wins and 113 points.
The Wild have been dominant at home, where they went 31-8-2 this season. Minnesota played to an 0-1-2 mark against the Blues this year, including dropping the Winter Classic 6-4 on home ice. They are just 2-5-4 against the Blues over the last two seasons.
The Wild feature a very deep forward corps, led by a guy who has to be the ultimate X-factor in this series and the most potent forward in either group, Kirill Kaprizov.
Behind that excellent top trio lies a scorching hot second line led by Kevin Fiala and emerging rookie Matt Boldy. The Wild’s shutdown unit of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno is one of the tougher lines to play against league wide and will be crucial to Minnesota’s chances of keeping this potent Blues offense in check.
Minnesota played to an elite 56.06 Expected Goals rate over its last 10 contests, which is a better mark than we saw from St. Louis. However, the Wild have fewer true game-breaking offensive talents than the Blues. The Blues can also cover up for a smaller control of the overall play pretty quickly with their makeup.
Minnesota has a more concerning IR as well, with both Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno listed as day-to-day. It sounds that most likely Zuccarello is closer to full health and will play, while Foligno’s status after being on the wrong end of an ugly knee-on-knee collision is more unclear.
It remains undecided whether Minnesota will go with Cam Talbot or Marc-Andre Fleury in goal for game one, but it’s safe to say that if only one plays contests this spring, the Wild likely went on a deep playoff run.
Fleury managed far better numbers since his addition to the Wild with a .913 save percentage and a 2.78 GAA throughout 11 games. Talbot has also been very sharp during that span with a .925 save percentage.
Blues vs. Wild Pick
St. Louis’ clear flaw all season long was its lowly defensive play, but it has clearly cleaned that up down the stretch while keeping the offensive play at a ridiculously high level.
Offensively, the Blues are one of the toughest teams to contain and offer a ton of plus-scoring talent on all three lines. Even with respect Minnesota’s unreal results in that regard, I still think St. Louis holds a scoring edge.
Minnesota holds an advantage on the back end, but altogether I see this series as closer to a pick ’em than the current numbers suggest. Consequently, the Blues at +120 is the side with more value in Game 1.
Minnesota has held a notable home-ice advantage this season, but the true advantage of home ice in the postseason is vastly overrated, and the numbers agree because road teams are above .500 since 2017, excluding bubble results.
The Blues went 10-3 during the 2019 cup run on the road, and while I’m not suggesting something like that is likely again, it’s safe to say this team can handle what will be a raucous atmosphere Monday in St. Paul.
Pick: St. Louis Blues +120 (Play to +115)
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