Boston Bruins vs. Minnesota Wild
NHL Pick: Boston +130 odds (December 17th 2014)
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The Wild have been unable to string together wins lately, alternating wins and losses over their last 11 games. They’ll host a Bruins team that has been down on its luck all season long, coming off three straight 3-2 losses, losing the last two in the NHL’s post-game skills competition. The Wild’s usually so airtight defense has crumbled in recent games, and I like the visitors chances of edging this one.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Goaltending – Tuukka Rask can not be blamed for the Bruins poor results as of late, stopping a total of 86 shots while allowing six goals during regulation over the last three games. With Rask starting yesterday there is a possibility that the visitors will turn to Johan Svedberg tonight, but the 25 year old Swede has good numbers as well showing a 2.28 GAA for the season and allowed only one goal on 34 shots against the Kings his last start. Darcy Kuemper is day-to-day and the Wild might have to go with their back-up Niklas Backstrom for a second straight day. He’s not been fortunate lately, allowing 11 goals over his last three games, four of them in Chicago last night.
2. Post regulation – The Bruins recent misfortune post regulation might lead you to believe that they’re at a disadvantage if the game goes to overtime, but I beg to differ. Boston’s shootout loss at Nashville last night was their first post-regulation loss for the season away from home, winning three straight prior. The Wild lost to St. Louis their last home game that went beyond regulation.
3. X-Factor – Reilly Smith has four goals and two assists over his last five games. He scored in Nashville last night and is tied with Brad Marchand for the team-lead with eight goals.
Selection: This is a play on the Boston Bruins (Free)
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings
NHL Pick: Columbus +1.5 -170 odds (December 16th 2014)
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Columbus is on a roll, coming into Detroit as winners of six straight. There is no margin for error though, as this is a team still sitting six points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings had won seven of eight before dropping their last three games.
Detroit sits in third place in the East, just three points back of the first place Penguins. It’s not going to be easy to break out of a slump against one of the league’s elite netminders, as Sergei Bobrovsky looks to be in the hunt for another Vezina Trophy. He’s undefeated in his six starts in December so far, boasting a phenomenal .943 save percentage in those games.
The Wings have a history of struggling against the Jackets, as Columbus has won six of the last eight head to head meetings. During that span they have taken 2-of-3 in Detroit, and the lone loss came in a game decided by just one goal.
I like the Jackets to keep things close in the Motor City tonight.
Minnesota Wild vs. San Jose Sharks
NHL Pick: Under 5 (December 11th 2014)
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The Sharks have scored 24 goals over their last six games and the Wild have scored 11 over their last three. This might not sound like a good spot to back the under, but I doubt these two sides will come out all guns blazing here as neither team want to drop points to a Conference rival.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Minnesota’s Special Teams – The Wild have the third worst power play in the NHL and only one of their nine goals on the man advantage this season have come on the road. What they lack in offense they make up for in defense though, with only the Blackhawks killing off penalties with a greater efficiency. The Islanders goal Tuesday was the first they conceded while being a man down over their last six games.
2. The Wild’s Defensive Workrate – No other team in the league work as hard as the Wild to protect their goalie, at least not if we are to believe the shots against table where Minnesota’s holding down the top spot allowing just over 25 shots per game. They’ve been particularly good lately, allowing 19, 21 and 19 shots over their last three.
3. X-Factor – Only one of the Wild’s last eight on the road have gone over the total.
Selection: This is a play on MIN@SJS to go under the total (Free)