NHL Odds & Picks for Wild vs. Golden Knights: Grab Minnesota as an Underdog
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Talbot.
- The top two in the NHL's Western Division meet up again in Sin City.
- The Golden Knights got the better of the Wild on Monday thanks to an impressive third-period comeback and overtime.
- Pete Truszkowski explains why he thinks there's value on Minnesota as an underdog on Wednesday night.
Wild vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-154|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday night and via FanDuel.|
The Vegas Golden Knights lead the NHL’s West Division, which is not surprising for a team that many had as Stanley Cup contenders in the preseason. However, the second-best team in the division based on points-percentage is the Minnesota Wild, which isn’t something many predicted.
The two played a thrilling, 5-4 overtime game on Monday, with the Golden Knights coming out on top after erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period.
What can we expect when the two teams meet on Wednesday night in Sin City?
In a division that contains teams like the Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues, it’s the Wild in second place. Minnesota has started the season with a 12-6-1 record and had won six straight prior to Monday’s loss.
While the Wild’s hot start might be unexpected, that doesn’t mean it’s undeserved. The underlying metrics back up the premise that Minnesota is a good hockey team. It ranks fourth in the league in expected goal rate and second in High-Danger Chance (HDC) percentage. The Wild’s offense ranks sixth in expected goals scored, while their defense ranks in the top 10 in expected goals against.
The main concern for the Wild last season was their goaltending, as the duo of Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock wasn’t good enough. The team bought in Cam Talbot during free agency and promoted youngster Kaapo Kahkonen to the NHL in order to address the issue. So far, so good, with Talbot stopping 91.7% of shots faced in eight starts and Kahkonen at 91.5% in 12 outings. With Minnesota’s strong defensive system, average goaltending gives them a chance to win any game.
When looking at the Wild roster, you’d probably be surprised to know they are a top-10 scoring team in the league, averaging 3.2 goals per game. Kirill Kaprizov has been everything Minnesota could have expected in his rookie season, having already developed into the Wild’s most dangerous forward.
Additionally, the team is getting contributions from some lesser known players like Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson-Ek, Marcus Foligno and Victor Rask. Mats Zuccarello has been awesome since his return from injury, as well. If Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise can generate some more offense, this bunch will be even more dangerous.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights’ standing out west is not a surprise. Vegas has been one of the NHL’s elite teams since it entered the league in 2017, and this season, it has won 13 of its first 18 games without showing any signs of slowing down.
Analytically, the Golden Knights are still a very good team. The team ranks eighth in shot-attempt rate, seventh in expected goal rate and fourth in HDC percentage. While being a top-10 team in all three categories is impressive, it’s actually a decline from last season when the Knights ranked first, first and second in those three categories.
Vegas ranks 11th in both expected goals scored and expected goals against at 5-on-5 and top 10 in both HDC created and allowed.
The metrics support Vegas being a very good team, but not quite at the level of last season and not quite at the level that a 13-4-1 record would suggest.
After losing his starting job in last year’s playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury came into this season as the expected back-up to Robin Lehner. However, Lehner is currently dealing with an injury and Fleury might just have claimed his old job back in his absence.
The 36-year-old has stopped 93.5% of the shots he’s faced this season while posting a Goals Saved Above Expected mark of +6.75, which is second best in the league to Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
When you combine Fleury’s performance and some of the elite talent the Golden Knights have, it’s no surprise they are winning games. Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore are both number one defensemen, Mark Stone is one of the best two-way players in hockey and Max Pacioretty is a feared goalscorer.
Wild vs. Golden Knights Best Bet
The Wild carried a 4-2 lead into the third period on Monday, but Vegas scored two to tie it before Pacioretty won the game in overtime.
I agree that Vegas should be favored in this game, especially with the game being in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights have more game-changing talent than the Wild and have the edge in goal.
With that being said, I do think the Golden Knights are overperforming a little bit. They are a very good team, but their profile doesn’t quite match a 13-4-1 team. On the flipside, the Wild are as good as their record would suggest while not getting nearly as much attention.
I personally would set this game’s no-vig line at -122/+122. Hopefully Vegas’ popularity and location can generate some action to help move the line even higher. I’d snatch the Wild at +125 or better in this matchup.
Pick: Wild +130 (down to +125)