NHL Odds & Picks for Wild vs. Blues: Expect Plenty of Goals With Husso in Net
- Minnesota and St. Louis meet for the second time in as many days after the Blues won 9-1 on Friday.
- St. Louis has now won two in a row, after losing seven straight.
- Despite that, Nicholas Martin thinks the value lays in the total.
Wild at Blues Odds
|Time||Saturday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings.|
Minnesota and St. Louis will get reacquainted after the Blues took a 9-1 laugher in the first leg of the back-to-back Friday night.
It has been a very exciting year so far for the Wild, as the team has skated to a 25-12-2 record and will almost certainly claim a playoff spot. I believe this Wild roster was closer than some may have thought last year, as they skated to an expected GF% of 51.68, good for 10th in the league behind a very strong defence core. However they certainly missed any kind of elite scoring, and just simply did not have enough talent up front to capitalize on their positive possession numbers.
In came the long awaited Kirill Kaprizov, who has been a huge spark for the team and for its fanbase. The Russian phenom has been as advertised, putting up 34 points in 38 games as a rookie so far. Lovable veteran Mats Zuccarello has been excellent since returning as well, with 22 points in 25 games. Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek have taken some big steps forward offensively, and suddenly the Wild actually have a formidable offence.
Minnesota own a 6-3-1 record in their last 10, including a very impressive pair of wins in Vegas last week. The underlying numbers do suggest that they have been outplayed at times over that span however, as they have only had an xGF% of 44.69.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Blues have finally received some strong goaltending again from Jordan Binnington this week, and have turned the efforts into two desperately needed wins. Friday’s win was not all good however as Blues forward Robert Thomas was injured in the game.
Many had St. Louis pencilled in to third in the West division before the season, the spot Minnesota currently holds. However the Blues sit as possibly the NHL’s most underachieving team so far, one point behind Arizona for the last playoff spot.
The Blues have not looked like a team one season removed from winning the Stanley Cup, a good example of how thin the margins can be between success and failure in the NHL. They have not controlled the play often, skating to an xGF% of 46.7 over the entire year. The Blues play has been even worse of late, with a 40.87 xGF% over their last 10 games, which included a seven-game losing streak.
While the Blues have been rough in front of goaltenders Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso, that tandem certainly has compounded the issues. Particularly Husso, who over 13 games is -11.3 goals saved above expected and owns an 0.883 save percentage.
It is quite possible that we will see Husso Saturday given the back-to-back situation. Although I wonder if coach Craig Berube will decide they have no games to waste and ride Jordan Binnington’s hot hand back-to-back. Which ever goalie gets the start for the Blues will likely see a lot of action in front of a team that has given up a ton of chances over the last stretch.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Analytically, Minnesota might look like a reasonable play to bounce back here as a slight underdog, but it just seems to me that St. Louis got a big spark breaking the seven-game losing streak against Vegas and following it up with the massive performance yesterday. The Blues seem to have a few of their best scorers going, and I am willing to trust they can keep up the strong offensive play in what will be a more competitive game Saturday night.
The Blues do still own the second worst xGA/60 in the league over the last 10 games at 3.49, so Minnesota will have a good chance to bounce back closer to its season average of 2.97 goals per game. Especially if Husso is in the net behind a St. Louis team that has allowed 3.10 goals against per game.
I see a lot of value with the over 5.5 goals at -102 (FanDuel), and I think betting early is a better option as I believe the price will likely go down regardless, but move considerably if Husso is confirmed as the Blues starter.
Pick: Over 5.5