NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Ducks vs. Wild (Jan. 14)
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anaheim Ducks standouts Trevor Zegras, left, and Sonny Milano.
Ducks vs. Wild Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Two teams with the postseason in their sights will square off in St. Paul on Friday, when the Minnesota Wild host the Anaheim Ducks.
Both clubs have cooled off after hot stretches earlier in the season, and both are expected to be without their all-star starting netminders on Friday night.
These two teams have met twice so far this season, and the Wild narrowly prevailed both times. Their first game of the year was the 2-1 win at Honda Center on opening night, where Marcus Foligno tallied the winning goal with eight seconds left to play in regulation. Eight days later in Minnesota, Ryan Hartman played hero in the Wild’s 4-3 overtime victory.
This should be another competitive game, and you should consider backing the road dogs this time around.
After going 2-2-0 on their most recent homestand, the Ducks are embarking on a quick spin through the Central Divsion, meeting Minnesota on Friday and Chicago on Saturday.
That could create an interesting situation in net. John Gibson has been on the COVID protocol list since January 6th, but it was reported on Thursday that he hadn’t returned a negative test in time to fly north with his teammates.
So Friday will probably mark the the 12th start of the year for Anthony Stolarz, who has been steady as Gibson’s backup. He has a 6-4-1 record with a .929 Save Percentage and 2.29 Goals-Against Average, to go along with 2.9 Goals Saved Above Expected. But he also took both losses on Anaheim’s recent homestand — the team in front of him hasn’t been lighting the lamp very often these days.
After recording his first career NHL win earlier in the week, goaltender Lukas Dostal has been recalled from the San Diego Gulls and placed on the taxi squad. So he’ll be available if needed.
Anaheim’s only other injury of note is to forward Adam Henrique. He has now been on the shelf for a month with a lower-body issue.
An early-season hot streak unexpectedly vaulted the Ducks into the playoff picture, and they remain comfortably entrenched in second place in the Pacific Division. But lately, they’ve just been treading water. They’re 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, .500 on the road with a 7-7-3 record, and land in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories.
Their strong suit is their special teams — they rank an impressive third in the league on the Penalty Kill at 85.3% and fifth on the Power Play at 26.7%. A rule of thumb around hockey people: if those numbers add up to more than 100, a team will usually have success. Anaheim clears that bar easily at 112.
The Wild are a streaky team. After an eight-game winning streak came to an end in early December, Minnesota went 0-4-1 in its next five games, including a disappointing 6-4 loss on New Year’s Day at the Winter Classic.
Since then, the Wild have won twice — a 3-2 road victory against Boston and a home shootout win against Washington last Saturday. A two-game road trip to Canada earlier this week was postponed, so they’ll have gone nearly a week between games by the time they host the Ducks on Friday.
Long layoffs typically mean lots of lineup fluidity, and that’s the case here. Most significantly, top scorer Kirill Kaprizov was injured against Boston but is expected to be ready to return against the Ducks. And while Joel Eriksson Ek was also working his way back from injury, a positive COVID test has ruled him out for Friday night.
On defense, the Wild are hopeful that Alex Goligoski can return from his time on the Covid list in time to face the Ducks, but Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon remain on the sidelines.
Cam Talbot is still listed as day-to-day after being injured at the Winter Classic, so expect Kaapo Kahkonen to make his third straight start in net. Like Stolarz, his numbers this season are also solid — 6-2-1 with a 2.51 Goals-Against Average and .915 Save Percentage to go along with 2.2 Goals Saved Above Expected.
Though the Wild have fallen to fourth place in the tough Central Division, their record on home ice this season is still an excellent 11-3-1. Much like the Ducks, their 5-on-5 possession numbers are middling. However, their special teams are not as strong — 24th on the Power Play and 17th on the Penalty Kill. Their ‘magic number’ only adds up to 97.1.
Ducks vs. Wild Pick
The margin between these two teams is quite narrow — probably narrower than the implied 62% chance of victory for Minnesota at -165.
With that in mind, the value in this matchup should lie on the Ducks’ side. Minnesota has home-ice advantage working in its favor, but Anaheim is healthier, boasts better special teams, and should be more in the groove as it plays its fourth game in the last seven days.
Take advantage of the tempting odds and back the Ducks on the moneyline in this one.
Pick: Ducks (+135); play down to +120