NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Wild vs Predators (Thursday, February 29)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Wild vs Predators (Thursday, February 29) article feature image

(Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) Pictured: Roman Josi and Gustav Nyquist

Wild vs. Predators Odds

Thursday, Feb. 29
8 p.m. ET
Wild Odds-105
Predators Odds-115
Over / Under
-115 / -105
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about the Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators on Thursday, February 29 – our expert NHL prediction and pick.

Despite losing against Carolina on Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild are among the league’s hottest teams. They’ve gone 7-2-1 in their past 10 games and continue to climb up the standings in the Western Conference.

Nashville is right there with its counterparts. The Predators have won six straight games, including most recently, a big 4-1 win against the Senators. Nashville is also firmly in the playoff race, tied with the Kings for a wild-card slot.

The stage is set, so let's get to my pick for Wild vs. Predators.

Minnesota Wild

Don’t look now, but Minnesota’s stars are red hot. The Russian sensation, Kirill Kaprizov, is averaging well over a point per game, and has 18 points in his past nine games. Joel Eriksson Ek has 28 goals on the season and is also on a tear in his past nine games. Mats Zuccarello has registered multiple four point games in his past five, and Matt Boldy is one of the league’s better young goal scorers.

That strong play has resulted in the second-best 5-on-5 offense since February 1st. The Wild have also played to a 56.21 xGF% (expected goals) and defensively have been one of the better teams at a 3.14 xGA/60.

In the past 10 games, Minnesota’s power play is among the best, scoring at a 28% clip. Typically its penalty kill is one of the worst, but it has held strong at 80% in this stretch.

What was a strength last year, is now a glaring hole in Minnesota. Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury have both had mediocre-to-bad seasons. Gustavsson started Tuesday, so we may see Fleury tonight. His production has lacked, but he's always capable of a big game, playing to a .908 SV% in his past eight starts, and a season total of -4.0 goals saved above expected (GSAx).

Nashville Predators

Nashville is getting a ton of good fortune from its top guys. Filip Forsberg, captain Roman Josi and Gustav Nyquist have each registered five points in their past three games. Additionally, Ryan O’Reilly has been a stabilizing force and Tommy Novak has points in 10 of his past 11 games.

Nashville’s 5-on-5 play this month has been fairly decent, as it's playing to a 51.51 xGF% and a 3.24 xGF%.

The most eye-popping problem in the past 10 games has been special teams. On the power play, the Predators score at a mediocre 17.4%. Even worse, the penalty kill is at a dreadful 71%.

Even though Juuse Saros hasn’t had one of his typical seasons, he’s picking it up at the right time. In his past four starts, he’s played to an astounding .947 SV%. For the season, he has an uncharacteristic -1.9 GSAx, but that number is getting better as he gets hotter.

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Wild vs. Predators

Betting Pick & Prediction

Goaltending and special teams are the two biggest things I'm going to watch.

Nashville clearly has the upper hand in the crease, as Saros is up to his old ways. For the Wild, you never know what you’re going to get with Fleury at this stage in his career. He’s clearly a volatile option to back.

Minnesota commits a lot of penalties, the fourth most in the league. It may be doing well on the penalty kill now, but there’s a reason why it’s still fourth worst for the season. I don’t trust Nashville’s power play, but it’s better than whatever Minnesota is rolling out on the other end.

To that point, Nashville’s penalty kill is terrible, while the Wild’s power play is thriving. Difference is, the Predators have Saros in net, and the best penalty killer is always the goaltender.

This’ll be an even game, but I’m putting more trust into the Predators.

Pick: Nashville Predators Moneyline (-120)

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