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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Wild vs. Sharks (Dec. 9)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Wild vs. Sharks (Dec. 9) article feature image

Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Minnesota Wild standout Kirill Kaprizov.

  • The Wild, who lead the Western Conference, face the Sharks on Thursday night.
  • The Sharks beat the Wild last month 4-1 in Minnesota.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the game and gives his top pick below.

Wild vs. Sharks Odds

Wild Odds-145
Sharks Odds+125
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Minnesota will head in to San Jose looking to extend a seven-game winning streak which has the Wild sitting seven points clear atop the Central Division at the season’s quarter-way mark.

San Jose has also exceeded expectations to start the year, holding down a wildcard spot in the West, as they have finally seen some reasonable goaltending and greatly improved play from Erik Karlsson.

I think both of these teams will see their winning percentage regress by the end of the season, but will we see Minnesota stretch their absurd .740% points mark a little further tomorrow night?

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota has come flying out of the gates as it looks to hammer home the point that last season was no fluke. The Wild haven’t offered any form of letdown as they have looked sharp at both ends of the ice.

The Wild feature a very well balanced roster including a talented back end,and a committee of strong two-way forwards headlined by the elite play of Kirill Kaprizov.

I thought a letdown for the Wild offensively was possible this year, as a number of players had a career year last season. Letdowns for Kaprizov and an aging Mats Zuccarello seemed very reasonable, and center depth was still not very strong.

Neither has come to fruition, as both sit beyond a point-per-game, and the two have found chemistry of late with Ryan Hartman. Hartman is enjoying a breakthrough season himself in helping to solve the Wild’s perceived weakness as center.

The trio has dominated during 5-on-5 play, with a 61.8 xGF% over 64.8 minutes together. They will make life very hard for a duo that has leaked High Danger Chances Against in Brent Burns and Mario Ferraro Thursday night.

Behind those three skates a deep offensive unit that is hard to defend, which includes a number of strong two-way forwards lead by the stellar play of Joel Eriksson Ek.

Ek will often be used in a shutdown role against top opposition trios, similar to what we saw from Phil Danault during last year’s playoffs. He doesn’t seem like a top-line center, but you can play him head-to-head with the league’s best and live with the results.

Combined with the help of a very strong defense corps, the Wild have held opposition to a strong xGA/60 of 2.26 the last month. When the scoring inevitably comes back down to earth to an extent, they should still manage strong results.

Captain Jared Spurgeon is also likely to return and will be a notable boost to a defense corps which has already looked very strong of late.

Cam Talbot has flourished behind his team’s strong play again this season, stopping .919 % of shots faced with a +5.5 Goals Saved Above Expected rating (GSAx) across 19 games played and should start tomorrow.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose has seen bounce-backs this season in a number of key areas (most importantly goaltending) and in turn have enjoyed more success with a 14-11-1 record.

A strong 51.19 xGF% the last month suggests that could continue, however I still feel this team is likely to drop-off, and that that number doesn’t seem to entirely exemplify their play.

It’s still high-risk high-reward from Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson leading the way on the back-end. When faced with stiff offensive competition, San Jose’s top defensive pairs can struggle in tough transition matchups and playing more in their D-zone, specifically Burns.

San Jose have already confirmed Adin Hill as tomorrow’s starting goalie. Hill has struggled altogether with a .905 Save % and -3.8 GSAx but has been stronger of late in stopping .928% of shots his last five games.

Wild vs. Sharks Pick

The Wild have dominated all competition of late, with a +19 Goal Differential over their seven-game winning streak. While I do not like to buy into narratives like this too much, I certainly don’t mind that San Jose embarrassed Minnesota on home-ice 4-1 on November 16th, as I imagine Dean Evason’s crew would love to return the favor here and avoid a letdown effort.

Dean Evason will likely to try to keep the Greenway/Ek/Foligno unit on San Jose’s top trio when possible, and I like that matchup for the Wild. Furthermore, Minnesota’s depth will give them favorable matchups throughout and can also force San Jose to play inside their zone more here.

It’s hard for me not to believe Minnesota is winning this one more than half the time in regulation against a very middling San Jose team, and I certainly think we have value at +105 (48.8% implied probability) for them to do so.

Pick: Minnesota Wild 3-Way Moneyline +105 (Play to -110)

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