NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Wild vs. Stars (Dec. 20)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Wild vs. Stars (Dec. 20) article feature image
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Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Eriksson Ek

  • Updated Stars vs. Wild odds list Dallas at -115 for Monday night's game, up five cents from last night, as Minnesota looks to get back on track.
  • The total hasn't moved off the key number of 5.5 but betting action has moved the juice on the over to -130.
  • Get Nicholas Martin's full Stars vs. Wild pick and preview below.

Wild vs. Stars Odds

Wild Odds -105
Stars Odds -115
Over/Under 5.5 (-130/+110)
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Minnesota Wild will travel to Dallas looking to snap their first three-game losing streak since Dean Evason took over behind the bench. The Wild are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres and have played just once since Dec. 12 due to schedule disruptions from Covid-19.

The Stars finally broke through offensively in a 4-3 win over Chicago on Saturday, with two goals coming on the 5-minute power play given after Brett Connolly injured Tanner Kero with a dangerous hit. The victory could serve as an emotional boost for a club needing a spark, but will it be enough to get two points against the Wild?

Diving Into Minnesota’s Struggles

Every team will go through some rough patches over the course of an 82-game season and that seems to be what is happening for the Wild. Not only have the Wild dropped three in a row, but they’ve been struggling to drive play in that span with a 42.2% expected goals rate.

There is no real reason to be alarmed, however, as the big picture is still very kind to the Wild, who have posted a 51.1% expected goals rate and a 14-5-2 record over their last 21 games.

Minnesota’s well-balanced roster is led by a mobile back-end that is terrific at pushing the play up the ice to spring odd-man rushes. This style has produced excellent results the last two seasons and things look good again this season as Minnesota is in first place in the Central with an impressive +23 goal differential.

The Wild will be without Jared Spurgeon once again on Monday, but even short his services Minnesota’s defense can hold up, largely thanks to the effectiveness of Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin on the middle pairing. Brodin and Dumba have skated to a 54.1% expected goal rate over 417.5 minutes together this season.

Alex Goligoski, who was viewed as nothing more than a stop-gap when he signed for Minnesota as a 36-year-old free agent this summer, has also been terrific on the blueline, tallying 19 points in 26 games this season.

Minnesota’s offensive-minded defense fits with the team’s up-tempo style, which has been a welcome sight for an organization known more for its ability to clog it up. The Wild have received contributions from all over the lineup, which has led to the club posting the second-highest goals-per-game mark this season (3.62).

The Wild will likely regress from that mark as we go deeper into the season, but they also have the ability to come out on top in tight contests thanks to a collection of strong two-way forwards like Joel Eriksson Ek. Minnesota’s shutdown ability should see it improve on its pedestrian defensive record this season, so long as the goaltending continues to hold up.

Cam Talbot is expected to get the start for Minnesota and he’s been strong this season with a +6.5 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) and a .919 save percentage (SV%) in 22 games this campaign.

wild vs ducks-odds-pick-prediction-preview-nhl-october 15-2021
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Talbot.

The Streaky Stars

The Stars finally managed to breakthrough with a win Saturday, ending an ugly and lifeless five-game losing streak with the overtime win, but even that effort featured some play worthy of critique, and altogether the Stars have posted a 45.61% expected goals rate over their last six contests.

Last week’s back-to-back 4-1 defeats in a home-and-home against a depleted Blues team were a notable low-point, and I think it’s safe to say that the offensive support behind the dominant top trio of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski is going to be lacking all season long.

A number of forwards have really struggled, including Tyler Seguin, who has simply been unable to find his game following major surgery.

The lack of support has Dallas sitting in 25th in offensive production with a -6 goal differential altogether, and the last stretch has really opened my eyes that this team simply may not be as strong as I had once believed this season.

It’s unclear whether Dallas will start Braden Holtby or Jake Oettinger, but both have been capable in the blue paint. Oettinger owns a +6.0 GSAx with a .932 SV%, while Holtby holds a +0.4 GSAx with a .922 SV% this season.

Wild vs. Stars Pick

Thursday’s shootout loss to Buffalo ended a season-and-a-half streak in which Minnesota hadn’t lost three games on the spin, which really illustrates just how consistent this team has been under Dean Evason.

Backing the Wild in a pick’em is rarely going to be the worst idea in the world, especially against an inconsistent team like the Stars, who are struggling to get any offensive support from the middle of the lineup.

The Stars are always going to be led by their sweltering defensive play, but with a number of forwards failing to move the needle, it’s hard for me to look away from this price on Minnesota.

Pick: Minnesota Wild -120 or better

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