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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Expect Offense in Wild vs. Oilers

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Expect Offense in Wild vs. Oilers article feature image

Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid

  • The Oilers are short home favorites on Friday night against the Wild.
  • The Oilers offense has been elite with Connor McDavid leading the way, but will the Edmonton defense do enough against Kirill Kaprizov to beat the Wild?
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Wild vs. Oilers Odds

Wild Odds +106
Oilers Odds -128
Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-115)
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Minnesota’s Western Canada road swing continues Friday with an exciting matchup against the Edmonton Oilers.

Both of these sides remain entrenched in close battles for Western Conference playoff positioning, and even a quarter through the season, this matchup holds meaningful playoff significance.

Edmonton was bested 5-3 in Minnesota a week ago, but will the Oilers extract some revenge on home ice Friday?

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Wild Stabilizing After Slow Start

It’s been an uneven start to the season for Dean Evason’s Minnesota Wild, but a 13-10-2 record and +2 Goal Differential despite relatively poor goaltending is very reasonable overall.

The lack of a true No. 1 center will likely prevent the Wild from roaming too deep into the playoffs yet again, but this is still a very deep and talented roster which is likely to produce offense at an above average rate this season.

A year ago, the Wild scored 3.58 goals per game, which was the fifth-highest mark in the league.

That mark was an overachievement based upon the underlying results, and the loss of Kevin Fiala up front surely hurts the team’s star power. However, I am not convinced this is a 17th-best offense as their results would indicate.

Kirill Kaprizov is the team’s star, but adding another legitimate superstar would go a mile. Nonetheless, Minnesota features some blue liners capable of driving offense up the ice, and those pieces have helped to hide some other roster concerns.

The Wild have controlled play to a 51.0% Expected Goals For rating over the last 10 games and have stabilized after a slow start to the year.

Marc-Andre Fleury’s form in goal has been notably up-and-down, but his -5.6 Goals Saved Above Expected rating and .892 Save % suggest there have been a lot more bad nights than good ones.

Backup Filip Gustavsson may get the start in this contest, and watching confirmation of the Wild’s netminder after morning skate is relevant.

Oilers Offense in Rhythm

Coach Jay Woodcroft’s side needs to clean it up defensively and keep the puck out of its net, but the talent simply does not seem to be on hand to perform such a feat.

Few Oilers defenders are capable of suppressing opposition chances effectively, even $9.5-million man Darnell Nurse, who has clearly not been dominant this season.

Over the last month of play, the Oilers have allowed 3.08 Expected Goals against per 60, which is a significant improvement over their results early in the season (and a top-third rate in the league).

However, the Oilers have still allowed an actual mark of 3.53 goals per game, and I remain unconvinced their defensive play is as sharp as their underlying numbers suggest.

On the other hand, their offense is undoubtedly as strong as the analytics suggest. The Oilers have generated 3.46 goals per game over the last month with an xGF/60 of 3.44.

Connor McDavid is on pace to completely smash the salary cap era’s points record; he’s already scored with a whopping 52 points in 27 games.

Leon Draisaitl has been in ridiculous form as well and has generated 44 points in 27 games himself–which is still a historic pace, outside of his partner in crime.

With Zach Hyman back in the mix, Edmonton’s winger situation looks reasonable once again, and shutting down the Oilers offense will be an incredibly tall task for any NHL side.

Stuart Skinner has begun to fall down to earth in Edmonton’s goal after a blistering start to the season. He is still a very solid starting option and owns a -0.0 GSAx and .915 Save % in 15 appearances.

Jack Campbell has struggled mightily to a -10.8 GSAx and .872 Save % in 13 appearances this season. He has not made a start since December 1st against the Wild, and it is very realistic to think coach Woodcroft finally looks his way again tonight.

Confirmation on that is worth watching, as the sample size of Campbell struggling notably dates back a long period, and it is a considerable handicapping factor if he plays over Skinner.

Wild vs. Oilers Pick

Both sides have frequently played in high-scoring contests of late, and with Edmonton specifically, this trend should continue over a larger sample.

Whether the Oilers like it or not, their personnel on hand makes it hard to win games 3-1.

Analytically Minnesota is playing some low event hockey, but a matchup against the Oilers with potentially two poor goaltenders in net does not make me concerned that the Wild could be due for lower-scoring games.

Targeting Oilers overs against talented offensive teams has been a trend which I have loved dating back to last season and even in the playoffs was an extremely profitable trend.

As I noted in yesterday’s handicap for Senators vs. Stars, scoring is up significantly this season, with games averaging over 6.5 goals per game.

In a matchup which figures to be more high-scoring than an average NHL contest, getting nearly plus money for the total to go over 6.5 when that is simply the league average at this point is a great price.

It’s also still entirely possible Edmonton views this as the time to finally go back to Campbell in goal, which would realistically be great news for the over and likely move the number back to -125.

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