Dusty’s NHL picks record: 2-1
Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Free NHL Pick: Wild ML
Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
A pair of Central Division rivals will exchange holiday pleasantries on Thursday night at United Center, with both teams hoping to come out of the break differently than how they went into it.
Minnesota is on a four-game losing streak, most recently falling to Dallas 2-1 in overtime on Saturday. Chicago lost to Florida 6-3 on Sunday, snapping a season-long three-game winning streak that briefly had some Hawks fans thinking this might not be a lost season after all.
The Wild are 7-9-0 SU on the road and 8-8 on the puck line away from home. The Blackhawks are 7-8-3-1 SU at home and 9-10 on the puck line at United Center.
Minnesota wants to avenge a 3-1 setback in Chicago on November 18. Corey Crawford was in net for the Blackhawks in that one; it isn’t certain if he’ll be there for this one (concussion), but he is eligible to come off injured reserve. If Crawford is out, Cam Ward or Collin Delia will get the call. Delia, 24, made his season debut Friday at Colorado, stopping 35 of 36 shots in a 2-1 victory. Ward was in net against Florida, allowing five goals on 26 shots. That didn’t help his season goals-against average (3.90) or save percentage (.886).
Patrick Kane and the red-hot Alex DeBrincat each have 17 goals for the Hawks. Kane leads the team in assists (27) and points (44).
Minnesota’s offense struggled in the week before the break. The Wild scored a total of three goals during its four-game losing stretch; in the two games prior, they tallied 12 goals in a pair of blowout victories.
Zach Parise leads Minnesota with 15 goals, while Mikael Granlund leads in assists (23) and points (34). Goalie Devan Dubnyk has a 2.59 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 28 starts, and Alex Stalock has a 2.65 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
- Wild are 5-1 in their last six road games vs. a team with a home winning % of less than .400.
- Wild are 4-1 in their last five games playing on three or more days rest.
- Wild are 5-2 in their last seven games vs. a Central Division opponent.
- Blackhawks are 2-6 in their last eight home games.
- Blackhawks are 1-5 in their last six home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Blackhawks are 8-20 in their last 28 games playing on three or more days rest.
The home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings in this series, and the Wild are 7-15 in their last 22 visits to Chicago. Those trends clearly point in Chicago’s favor, but don’t kid yourself. Minnesota has been the better team all season despite its current skid, and this is a perfect spot for them to rediscover their offense. Back the Wild with your NHL picks.