Wild vs. Blackhawks Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Minnesota Stay Hot on Friday Night? (Jan. 21)
Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mats Zuccarello
- Minnesota is hot, and will look to keep it rolling tonight against the Blackhawks.
- The Wild are favorites on the road and should hold an advantage as the superior squad.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting prediction.
Wild vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Chicago Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild for the front end of a home-and-home on Friday night. Surprisingly, this is the first time this season these two division rivals will square off.
Minnesota has held up pretty well since losing to the Blues in the Winter Classic. The Wild have won three of four since playing in the NHL showpiece and now occupy the first Wild Card spot. Despite some injuries, Minnesota has continued to get production from all over its roster.
Prior to falling to the Kraken on Monday, the Blackhawks were actually riding pretty high. Despite placing at the bottom of the standings, Chicago won four in a row and seemed to get out of the rut they were in all season. Now the job is to respond after a loss to the lowly Kraken.
The Wild Are Solid on Both Ends of the Ice
Led by Russian sensation Kirill Kaprizov, the Minnesota Wild have turned into one of the league’s most exciting teams. Behind Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman, Mats Zuccarello, and Kevin Fiala have all put up quality production as well — with Hartman already having a career year 35 games in. Hartman is dealing with a non-Covid illness, so it’s uncertain he’ll suit up, while defenders Jonas Brodin and captain Jared Spurgeon are also questionable.
Minnesota has been one of the better teams in the league at generating offense. They currently stand fourth in expected goals per 60 minutes with a 3.16 xGF/60, but don’t generate as many high-danger chances as their expected goals suggest. Special teams isn’t exactly their M.O. either, given that they only score on the power play 17% of the time, which is in the bottom 10 of the league.
On the defensive end, the Wild are among the best. Despite missing Spurgeon and Brodin, they rank sixth in the NHL in preventing high-danger scoring chances, as well 11th in goals allowed.
Netminder Cam Talbot will be representing the Wild in the All Star Game, but he hasn’t played since suffering an injury in the Winter Classic. Talbot’s been practicing with the team for about a week, and there’s a chance he comes back either tonight, or tomorrow.
Talbot has had a fairly good season with a .909 SV% and a -0.2 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). Backup Kaapo Kahkonen has fared well in Talbot’s absence, posting a .918 SV% and a +2.0 GSAx.
The Blackhawks Can’t Generate Offense
Many Blackhawk fans wish this season can be erased from their memory. From their off-the-ice drama, to the poor play on the ice, it’s been a forgettable campaign.
Despite the Blackhawks having high-end, elite talent like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, they are the league’s worst team in expected goals per 60 with a 1.79 xGF. Not only that, but they rank 29th in creating high-danger chances, but their power play is (sort of) a saving grace scoring 18.8% of the time.
Given their woes, the Hawks have done an OK job on the defensive side of the puck. They don’t allow as many high-danger chances as one would think, but allow the ninth-most goals which is something to keep in mind.
Marc-Andre Fleury has done the best job he can do given the situation he’s in. The reigning Vezina winner is posting a .917 SV% and a -2.3 GSAx, which is an upgrade from earlier this season. Given that this is the front end of a back-to-back, it’s not known yet if Fleury or Kevin Lankinen will start.
The Finn hasn’t seen the ice since December, but he could take the net. Lankinen has been among the league’s worst with an .884 SV% and a second worst -12.8 GSAx. I would monitor who’s in net before placing a bet on this game.
Wild vs. Blackhawks Pick
There is a significant drop-off between Fleury and Lankinen, and the moneyline will likely take off towards the Wild if the latter gets the nod.
Even so, Minnesota is clearly the superior team and should have no problem driving play in this game. Chicago’s offense has sputtered all season, and the Wild have the offensive firepower to get separation as a favorite.
I like Minnesota at the current number, should Fleury start. But if Lankinen goes and this line flies, I think Over 5.5 has value.
Pick: Over 5.5 (+100) if Lankinen starts / Minnesota Wild -145 if Fleury starts.
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