NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Penguins vs. Wild (March 31)
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
- The Minnesota Wild host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Thursday's NHL action.
- Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are slight +100 ML underdogs, which has analyst Greg Liodice excited ahead of this clash.
- Check out below why he's backing Pittsburgh to secure the road victory.
Penguins vs. Wild Odds
|Over/Under||6 (-120 / +100)|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Teams with their eyes on the NHL playoffs square off Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the “State of Hockey” to take on the Minnesota Wild.
It will be their final meeting of the season, as the Wild came out victorious in 5-4 overtime shootout back in November.
Pittsburgh has really played some solid hockey heading into April. In their last 10 games, the Penguins have recorded a 6-3-1 record, but have lost three of their last four contests.
As for Minnesota, the club is on an absolute tear. The Wild are the league’s hottest team, having won six consecutive games and have gone 8-1-1 in their last 10 outings.
As per usual in the “Steel City,” there’s no shortage of talent on the Penguins. The greatness of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should never be overlooked, as well as Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. Pittsburgh has one of the deeper teams in the league and never cease to be great on a consistent basis.
When it comes to creating offense, Pittsburgh is historically one of the best. Scoring 3.29 goals per game, it’s not a surprise the team is top 10 in high danger chances and expected goals with a 54.99 xGF% this season. Not only that, but the Penguins have done an exceptional job on the power play, scoring 22.3% of the time.
On the other side, the Penguins are just as good. Letting in goals just isn’t their forte, as they only allow 2.59 goals per contest (fourth in the NHL) and sit 10th in high danger chances allowed. They’re elite at killing penalties via an 85.8% success rate.
After a very rough ending to last season, Tristan Jarry is having a bounce back season. The All-Star goaltender is putting up career numbers with a .921 SV% and a +16.2 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected) this season.
I would expect Jarry to start in this matchup since Pittsburgh isn’t only playing a formidable opponent, but chasing Carolina for the top seed in the Metropolitan Division.
As one of the more exciting teams in the league, the Wild are taking the NHL by fire. Kirill Kaprizov is one of the most exciting stars, while players like Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman are having exceptional seasons.
Similar to their counterparts, the Wild are also a solid team at putting the puck in the net, scoring 3.63 goals per game (fourth overall) this season.
Given how explosive Minnesota is, it doesn’t create as many high danger chances, but is great at driving play with a 53.39 xGF percentage. Its power play is fine, but could be better, as it only scores 20.5% of the time.
The Wild are pretty decent on the defensive side, conceding 3.06 goals per game. They have done a masterful job at limiting high danger chances for the opposition, though. When down a man, they need to be better, only having a 76.2% success rate on the penalty kill.
Isn’t it funny how things come in full circle? Future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury was recently acquired by the Wild and will probably take the crease against his former team. The man they call “Flower” has done a good job in his two Minnesota starts, posting a .948 SV% and a 2.2 GSAx.
Penguins vs. Wild Pick
Both teams are playing their best hockey and utilize a similar game plan. Pittsburgh does have a big edge on the defensive end though, which could be a factor in determining the result.
You can have all the talent in the world, but if you can’t get through a defense, there’s not much else you can do.
It could get interesting since Minnesota has a fantastic home record, but Pittsburgh has one of the better NHL road records.
The Wild’s current streak has been a joy to watch, but I think it will end against the Penguins.
Pick: Pittsburgh ML (+100)