NHL Picks: Avalanche vs. Wild Game 4

Ross Benjamin

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 3:32 PM GMT

The Colorado Avalanche will attempt to bounce back from their 1st loss of the playoffs on Thursday night in Minnesota. Our resident sports pick expert will once again share his expertise, and also disclose his NHL free pick in this game.

Pivotal Game 4 Upcoming
The Wild will host the Avalanche on Thursday at the Excel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota with the opening faceoff slated for 9:35 PM ET. This will be Game 4 in the best-of-7 Western Conference Quarterfinals series in which Colorado hold a 2-1 lead. According to NHL betting odds Minnesota is a -143 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0.

 
Back in the Mix
The Minnesota Wild thrust itself right back into this series with a 1-0 overtime win at home on Monday night, and now trail in the series 2-1. Despite Minnesota thoroughly dominating the territorial edge in the game by outshooting Colorado 46-22, the result was in jeopardy until Mikael Granlund scored 5:08 into the overtime session to capture the win. Darcy Kuemper received his first start of the playoffs in goal and turned away all 22 Colorado shots on goal to earn the shutout. Keumper has yet to surrender a goal in this series during 4 periods, and has stopped all 36-shots which have come his way. Minnesota has now gone 27-15 on home ice this season. The Wild are also a perfect 8-0 in the last 3 seasons following a home shutout win.

Take a look at some live NHL Stanley Cup Betting Odds

Superb Effort from Varlamov goes to Waste
The Colorado Avalanche may have lost Game 3 of this series, but it certainly was no fault of goaltender Semyon Varlamov who stopped 45 of 46-shots. Varlamov has posted an excellent .937 save percentage in the first 3-games of this series. The loss in Game 3 also marked just the 2nd time all season that the Colorado Avalanche was shutout in a game. Colorado was the 4th highest scoring team in the NHL during the regular season. Despite the defeat Colorado is still a very good 26-16 on the road this season. However, it must be noted that the Avalanche have now dropped 3 straight away games.


Final Analysis
Minnesota was able to restore its confidence by capturing their 1st win of the series on Monday. They outplayed the Avalanche from the opening face-off, and received a boost from new inserted Darcy Kuemper in goal. Considering the Wild were a very good team on home ice this season, and the extreme importance of Thursday night’s game, the edge in my eyes clearly goes to the home side.

Free Pick: Minnesota -143 over Colorado

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