Thursday NHL Odds, Picks & Predictions: Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks Game 3 Preview (Aug. 6)

Credit:

Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Quinn Hughes (#43) and Elias Pettersson (#40).

  • The Minnesota Wild are a short favorite over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of their qualifying round series.
  • The Wild won handily in Game 1, and fell 4-3 in Game 2 thanks to two garbage-time goals.
  • Michael Leboff is going back to the well for Game 3, backing Minnesota to pull ahead in the series.

Canucks vs. Wild Game 3 Odds

Wild Odds -107 [BET NOW]
Canucks Odds -109 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 (+108/-132) [BET NOW]
Time Thursday, 2:30 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network

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The Minnesota Wild were largely unimpressive in Game 2 so it may be unfair to focus on Alex Stalock, but considering how bad the Wild’s goaltending has been over the past few seasons there’s no reason to start anywhere else.

After pitching a shutout in Game 1, Stalock let in a couple of save-able goals in Game 2 to force the Wild into a game of catch-up. That’s never a good thing for a defense-first team. A more open style of hockey certainly favors the Canucks since they have a lot more game-breaking talent than the Wild.

Stalock would end up finishing the game with a -1.25 Goals Saved Above Expectations (GSAx) and if the Wild want to win Game 3 — or the series for, that matter — they will need him to play better. The Wild’s defense is usually very sound so Stalock doesn’t need to play great, he just needs to play better than he did in Game 2.

A 5-on-5 goal would certainly help, too.

The Wild have controlled play at 5-on-5 but have yet to find the back of the net at even strength. Vancouver was not a good possession team during the regular season but the Canucks don’t need to be. They have enough scoring talent to make up for losing the expected goals battle.

Minnesota Wild Vancouver Canucks
5-on-5 Goals For 0 3
5-on-5 Expected Goals For 3.06 1.85
5-on-5 Shot Attempts 79 71
5-on-5 High-Danger Scoring Chances 14 7

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 cited from Evolving Hockey.

Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because every SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance.

GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.


I’ve been higher on the Wild compared to the market all season. I’m of the opinion that good defensive teams are often underrated by the betting market.

Part of that is because it is harder to quantify good defense, but it’s also because bettors will naturally gravitate towards more exciting teams compared to teams that are known for structure. It’s more fun to bet on the team with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes than the team with Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin.

Minnesota Wild Vancouver Canucks
Game 1 -110 -110
Game 2 -115 +100
Game 3 -109 -107

The Wild opened as a slight underdog for this series but they took a bunch of money leading up to Game 1 to push the odds to a pick ’em. The market hasn’t budged much since then so it’s pretty clear that Game 3 will likely be a coin flip, per the odds.

At these kind of odds, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to a team with solid 5-on-5 metrics and bad goaltending rather than a team that is reliant on its netminder or skill players to make up for poor metrics.

As is always the case with betting on the Wild, you are basically betting on whether or not the goaltender can do his job. Minnesota’s defense makes life very easy on whoever is minding the cage, so I’m hopeful that Stalock can deliver in Game 3.

I think Minnesota has value at -120 or better and also wouldn’t be opposed to playing the Wild at -112 (DraftKings) to win the series.

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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