Add the 'Over' to Your NHL Picks for Avalanche vs. Wild

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, October 9, 2014 1:15 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014 1:15 PM GMT

It’s hockey season again, and our NHL betting odds guru provides us with an insightful preview article in the game between the Avalanche/Wild on Thursday. This sports handicapping transcript concludes with a NHL free pick on the total.

Season Opening Playoff Rematch
The Wild will host the Avalanche on Thursday at the Excel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The opening face-off is slated for 9:05 PM ET, and the game will be televised by the NBC sports Network. According to NHL odds, the Wild is a -140 moneyline favorite, and the posted total is 5.5.

 

Skinny on the Head to Head
These teams met in the playoffs last season during the Western Conference quarterfinals. The Wild were able to overcome a 2-0 series deficit, and win the series in 7-games. It took a dramatic overtime goal by Nino Niederreiter in Game 7 to decide the series winner. The home team has won 7 of the last 8-games between these teams. The teams have also seen 7 of their last 9 meetings go over the total.

 

Looking to Continue the Momentum
Although last season ended on a very disappointing note for the Colorado Avalanche, they certainly had a lot to be proud of, and a plethora of positives to build on. The team went from 29th overall in the NHL during the 2012-2013 campaign, to winning the Central Division last year. They were able to amass 112-points, good for 3rd best in the entire NHL, only the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks were able to accumulate more. They were equally as good on the road, as they were at home, earning 56-points each in those capacities. The Avalanche added a couple of 37-year old veteran forwards during the offseason with Jerome Inginla (560 career goals) and Daniel Briere to an already potent scoring team that scored the 3rd most goals in the NHL a season ago.

 

A Team on the Rise
The Minnesota Wild showed a season ago why they’ll be a team to be reckoned with in future years to come. They finished 7th overall in the Western Conference with 98-points, and advanced to the Conference Semifinals before being eliminated by Chicago in 6-games. Minnesota was very good on home ice a season ago, earning at least 1-points in 31 of 41-games during the regular season at the Xcel Energy Center. They possess one of the top defensemen in all of hockey with Ryan Suter. They have a very good core group of quality forwards that include Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, and new free agent signee Thomas Vanek who played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota.

 

Probable Starting Goaltenders
Barring a major surprise, the Avalanche will go with Semyon Varlamov in goal. Varlamov comes off a terrific 2013-2014 campaign in which he went 41-20, had a 2.41 GAA, a .927 save percentage, and posted 2 shutouts. By having a head coach like Patrick Roy who’s a Hall of Fame goaltender has certainly gone a long way in the development of Varlamov.

The most reliable sources at my disposal are indicating it will be Nikolas Backstrom in goal for the Wild for the season opener. The 36-year old veteran has compiled a solid 2.46 GAA, a .916 save percentage, and posted 27 shutouts in 379 career NHL games. Since coming to the NHL in 2006-2007, the Finnish goaltender has spent his entire career with the Minnesota Wild.

 

Final Analysis
This is a tough call since there’s no past performance charts to go on, in addition to both teams being so evenly matched when you weigh in the home ice advantage for the Wild. For my NHL picks I’m going to have a very small lean toward this one playing on the high side of the total.

NHL Pick: Avalanche/Wild to go over the total of 5.5 at Pinnacle

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