Capper Leans On Wild As The Wise Free NHL Pick vs. Flyers

Jason Lake

Thursday, February 25, 2016 12:25 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 12:25 PM GMT

Two of the NHL's worst teams collide Thursday night when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Minnesota Wild. Looks like the NHL odds are on hold for this matchup.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 23: 1-1 ATS (–0.85 units), 1-6 ML (–5.12 units), 0-1-2 Totals (–1.00 units)

 

Okay, something must be up with Thursday's game (7:00 p.m. ET) between the Minnesota Wild and the Philadelphia Flyers. We don't have any lines up yet on our NHL odds board at press time, and it's already Wednesday evening here at the ranch. Is it injuries? Confusion over the starting goaltenders? Enquiring minds want to know.

 

I.R. Concussed
It could be the injuries. Claude Giroux (16 goals, 33 assists) was officially ruled out for this game a few hours ago, the victim of an “upper-body injury” that may or may not be a concussion. Giroux has missed two games for the Flyers; they split the pair to sit at 26-22-11, good for seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. Yikes.

Wouldn't you know it, the Wild (27-23-10) are in seventh place in the Central, and Zach Parise (18 goals, 18 assists) is out Thursday with an upper-body injury. He's not even traveling with the team to Wells Fargo Center. Let me guess... concussion? Nobody's saying, but Minnesota did place Jason Zucker (12 goals, 10 assists) on injured reserve Wednesday afternoon with a concussion. That leaves the Wild without their top two left wingers for Thursday's game.

Must Read: Methods For Picking NHL Winners

Eh! Steve
Or maybe the oddsmakers are being extra-careful because the Wild are playing the front end of back-to-back games. Left Wing Lock has Devan Dubnyk (.918 save percentage) listed as probable to start for Minnesota; Dubnyk has done reasonably well in a tough situation, although back-up Darcy Kuemper (.920 SV%) has arguably done slightly better. Steve Mason (.915 SV%), on the other hand, has definitely been less effective for the Flyers as nominal No. 2 Michal Neuvirth (.928 SV%).

If Mason starts for Philadelphia, it'll be hard not to recommend Minnesota for your NHL picks. The Wild have played much better than their record would indicate; they have a goal differential of plus-5 on the season, well ahead of the Flyers at minus-16. Using the Simple Rating System at Hockey-Reference, Minnesota (+0.09 SRS) comes out exactly 0.30 goals better than Philadelphia (–0.21 SRS), so this game should be a pick 'em at the WFC, all other things being equal.

Which they're not. Even if we gloss over the injuries both teams have suffered, Philadelphia lowers its chances of winning every time Mason starts instead of Neuvirth. It's not a massive difference by any means, and Mason did get the W last month when Philadelphia (+147 away) beat Dubnyk and the Wild 4-3 in overtime. But betting on sports is all about small profit margins, and Mason has performed at least marginally worse than Neuvirth this year. By the way, looking at some of the early odds published across the pond in the U.K., each side is indeed being priced at –110 for this matchup. We'll lean blindly toward the Wild, and may the cylinder be with you.

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NHL Pick: Minnesota -101
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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