Wild vs. Golden Knights: NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction

Wild vs. Golden Knights: NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction article feature image

Photo by Ashley Potts/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Filip Gustavsson (left), Matt Boldy (right).

  • The Golden Knights host the Wild in a Saturday night clash between NHL Western Conference leaders.
  • Vegas played to a strong record in March, but Minnesota may actually be playing better hockey entering this game.
  • Expert Nick Martin breaks down Wild vs. Golden Knights and makes his betting pick below.

Wild vs. Golden Knights Odds

Wild Odds-106
Golden Knights Odds-113
Over/Under5.5 (-138/-112)
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Western division leaders go head-to-head on Saturday in a marquee matchup as the Golden Knights host the Wild in a game with plenty of playoff significance.

Minnesota sits atop the Central Division, but is up just two points over the Avalanche and Stars, respectively, who each have a game in hand. Vegas is one point up on the Oilers, who've played one more contest.

Winning the division would offer a strong boost to either club's playoff chances, as it would likely face a far less daunting opponent in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.

Vegas is priced as a slight favorite, but is quietly offering a number of key concerns despite managing seven wins in its last 10.

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Minnesota Wild

The Wild's impressive win in Colorado moved them to the top of the Central Division. They now hold a 35.6% chance of securing a surprising division title.

With Kirill Kaprizov sidelined, the Wild have banded together, playing a very effective defensive game which has allowed the combination of Filip Gustavsson and Marc-André Fleury to thrive at a ridiculous level.

Over the last 26 games, Fleury and Gustavsson have combined for a ridiculous .932 save %, which is the top mark in the league. That figure will surely regress, but considering the sample size, it's a testament to how strong Minnesota has been playing defensively.

Minnesota played to a stellar 54.91% expected goals rating in March, and is beginning to have the look of a team that could make noise in the playoffs.

The greatest question will be if the Wild can continue to generate offense at such a high level, particularly if Kaprizov remains sidelined.

Minnesota generated 3.64 goals for per game in 14 March contests. While the underlying results were sound, the Wild are lacking much in the way of elite scoring talent, and could be a potential candidate for significantly worse results when the games have more meaning.

Gustavsson will likely be Minnesota's Game 1 starter because of how important this contest is standings wise. That said, Wild head coach Dean Evason has consistently split starts between Gustavsson and Fleury, so it also wouldn't be surprising to see Fleury get the nod.

Fleury has played to a +7.3 GSAx rating and .909 save % in 43 games. Gustavsson owns a ridiculous +24.4 GSAx and .933 save % in 35 games, and would likely be a shoo-in for a Vezina Trophy nomination if he had played at least 45 games.

Vegas Golden Knights

A strong reputation and winning results have gone a long way in hiding how bad Vegas' form has been from an analytical lens over the last month.

Over the last 15 games, Vegas has played to an alarmingly high 3.69 xGA/60 rating, and is not generating more than the opposition altogether with a 47.36 expected goals percentage in that span.

The Knights have remained opportunistic, both with the ability to finish chances at a high rate and win close games. Vegas leads the league in one-goal victories, which isn't exactly the compliment many older hockey minds think it is — eventually close bounces go the other way at the wrong time.

A nightmare injury situation has been a large part of the Knights' underwhelming recent even-strength results, and the situation remains dire entering this matchup.

Captain Mark Stone headlines the list, but Shea Theodore, Reilly Smith and William Carrier — who have all been excellent for the Knights this season — will remain sidelined. With Logan Thompson also injured, Vegas' crease is shared by Jonathan Quick and Laurent Brossoit.

Quick, who will likely get the start, has played to a -17.5 GSAx rating and .888 save % in 39 appearances this season.

Wild vs. Golden Knights Pick

The Golden Knights have quietly been allowing their opposition a wealth of chances for what has become a large sample size, but they've able to hide that flaw with a combination of surprisingly strong goaltending and opportunistic goal scoring.

Moving forward, counting on strong play from Quick or Brossoit does not seem overly logical, and if Vegas allows the kind of chances it has been recently, we should see it play to high goals against averages.

Minnesota is playing a far sharper defensive game right now, insulating its goaltending combination very well and seeing incredible results from the tandem. While Gustavsson and Fleury are likely to regress, it still seems fair to say that either option offers a big upgrade compared to what the Knights currently have.

The Wild have clearly been playing better hockey as a team, and with that in mind, this opening number looks off to me.

Backing Minnesota to win down to -115 holds value.

Pick: Wild ML +104 (Play to -115)

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