NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Wild (December 16)
Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: The Minnesota Wild celebrate a goal against the Islanders.
- A struggling Blackhawks squad heads to Minnesota to take on the Wild.
- Minnesota is clearly the better side, but can it cover the number (Spread: -1.5)?
- Greg Liodice digs into the matchup and offers up his best bet below.
Blackhawks vs. Wild Odds
|Over/Under||6 (-106 / -114)
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After taking a loss last night, the Chicago Blackhawks are stumbling into St. Paul to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks have had a rough go lately and are just 1-8-1 in their past 10 games.
Meanwhile, the Wild are riding high and have gone 7-3 in their past 10 games. While they’re not dominating the league, they’re still having a strong season and are in third place in a stacked Central Division.
The Chicago Blackhawks are struggling mightily and superstar Patrick Kane can’t bail them out anymore. Kane has spent his career building a legacy in the Windy City, but there is much speculation about his future in Chicago. Behind Kane, the Blackhawks have received quality production from Max Domi, captain Jonathan Toews and Taylor Raddysh.
It’s no surprise that the Blackhawks are one of the worst teams at driving play. They have a bottom three even strength attack with a 40.44 xGF% (expected goals) and only generate a little less than seven high danger chances. However, the power play has been a bright spot as Chicago is converting on 23.8% of its chances.
On the defensive side, the Blackhawks are just as bad with a 3.04 xGA/60 and a penalty kill conversion rate of 73.3%.
With Arvid Soderblom starting last night against Vegas, I expect Petr Mrazek to start tonight. In 10 starts, Mrazek has been dreadful, playing to a sixth worst -10.7 goals saved above expected (GSAx) and an .873 SV%.
I have always liked Minnesota and the team it’s built. Kirill Kaprizov continues to be a superstar in this league with 36 points in 29 games, while his buddy Mats Zuccarello is also averaging over a point per game. Behind them, Matthew Boldy is an emerging superstar and Joel Eriksson Ek has always been a legitimate player.
Minnesota’s offense has always been fairly good. Last year, it was one of the best and this year it’s not as good, but is still solid. The Wild have the 12th-best 51.82 xGF% and only generate 8.7 high danger chances per game. Their power play is also one of the best, scoring with the man advantage 25% of the time.
Defense is a big strength as Minnesota has the fourth-best xGA/60 (2.22) and the penalty kill has been decent enough, succeeding 79.6% of the time.
I’m curious to see what Minnesota does tonight for goaltending. With his win on Wednesday, Filip Gustavsson has been red hot, going 5-0-0 with a .948 SV% in his past five starts. For the season, Gustavsson has played to a wonderful .921 SV% and +3.5 GSAx. His goalie partner, Marc-Andre Fleury, has left much to be desired, though has been better after a very poor start to the season. The former Vezina winner is playing to a -2.9 GSAx and an .895 SV%.
Blackhawks vs. Wild Pick
I’m fairly certain Minnesota is going to come on top, but the numbers are too big. I have a lot of confidence the Wild can win this by two or more goals, especially because the Blackhawks haven’t been in a one goal game since November 30th. Chicago is at the bottom of the barrel in almost all stats and Minnesota can hold its own.
The Blackhawks are also on the tail end of a back-to-back, so fatigue will likely be a factor against a fairly fresh Wild team.
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