NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Pick & Prediction: Wild vs. Penguins (Thursday, April 6)
Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Evgeni Malkin
- The Wild visit the Penguins in an important NHL matchup for both sides.
- Minnesota has clinched a playoff spot, but if fighting for seeding, while the Penguins are hoping to earn a spot in the postseason.
- Greg Liodice digs into the matchup and shares his best Wild vs Penguins bet below.
Wild vs. Penguins Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Coming off a rough shootout loss Monday, the Minnesota Wild visit the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Wild have gone through a stretch where they haven’t been offensively efficient, but are still winning games. They just clinched a playoff spot, and went 6-2-2 in their past 10 games.
Pittsburgh is also coming off a Tuesday loss with much more consequence. The Penguins are in a battle for one of the two wild-card spots and are on the outside looking in by one point. Pittsburgh is 4-6 in its past 10, which certainly doesn’t help.
Here’s a look at the odds, as well as our prediction for the Minnesota Wild vs. Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Wild winning all these games while Kirill Kaprizov has been out since March 8 is incredibly impressive. However, Kaprizov returned to practice Wednesday, so it’s unclear if he’ll return Thursday. If he doesn’t, Matthew Boldy has taken on a ton of responsibility, while Mats Zuccarello and Joel Eriksson Ek continue to produce at a high rate.
As stated earlier, Minnesota doesn’t produce offense at an efficient rate. Over the past two weeks, it rank 25th in expected goals with a 46.17 xGF%. Additionally, the power play hasn’t been great in Kaprizov’s absence.
Even on the defensive end, things haven’t been pretty. While the Wild kill penalties at a solid rate (81.3%), they have an underwhelming xGA/60 of 2.92 since March 20.
Both Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury have split starts lately. Gustavsson has sneakily played like one of the better netminders in the league, but Fleury is on a hot streak. In his past three games, he’s posted a .938 SV%. Since Gustavsson played Monday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fleury between the pipes against the team he spent most of his career with.
The ageless wonder Sidney Crosby is having another dynamite season, except he’s goalless in his past six games. His buddy, Evgeni Malkin, is goalless in his past five, which is very unlike the duo that has produced at a high level for over a decade. Jake Guentzel seems to have found his groove though, with four goals in his past six games — including four in consecutive games. Another key contributor is Bryan Rust, who has caught fire with four goals in his past three contests.
Pittsburgh has generated a solid offense over its past nine games. It’s ranked sixth with a 56.55 xGF% and the power play has clicked on all cylinders.
Defensively, things could be better. The Penguins are 23rd in the past nine games with an xGA/60 of 2.96, and the penalty kill is toward league average.
Goaltending has been a strength recently for Pittsburgh. After spending a ton of time on the IR, Tristan Jarry has put up a .927 SV% in his past five games. However, throughout the season, he’s posted a very poor -3.3 goals saved above expected (GSAx). I would expect him to start given the stakes.
Wild vs. Penguins Pick
The Wild have clinched a playoff spot, but they’re in a three-way tie for first in the Central. So, this game has high stakes for them as well. Minnesota is a great team on the road with a 20-12-6 record, but Pittsburgh is no slouch at home (22-12-5).
I don’t expect Kaprizov to return after being gone for a month and only practicing once, so I expect Minnesota’s offense to continue to struggle. The Penguins have been playing great hockey, but have seen subpar results, while Minnesota’s the exact opposite.
Pittsburgh hasn’t had any luck, but I think its luck will turn around with a win in this spot.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins 3-Way Line (+110)
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