NHL Picks: Jets vs. Wild Battle for Western Conference Final Spot

David Lawrence

Monday, April 6, 2015 4:42 PM GMT

The Winnipeg Jets sand Minnesota Wild are right in the thick of things in terms of the Western Conference playoff race and both teams need points for survival. 

The Winnipeg Jets Can Win Because…
Their playoff lives depend on it. The Jets enter Monday tied with the Los Angeles Kings for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Kings are on the road in Vancouver tonight, which means the Jets have to equal – if not better – whatever the Kings do tonight.

The good news for the Jets is goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is playing his best hockey of the season right now. He’s won seven of his last nine outings while posting a 1.99 GAA in the process. The Jets main issue is goaltending, so when Pavelec is playing this well, they can compete.

Minnesota has lost two straight and might be fading slightly. This is a team that hadn’t lost back-to-back games since January 20th but they’ve now lost two in a row. If their momentum has in fact changed then the Jets have a chance to pull this one out.

 

The Minnesota Wild Can Win Because…
The Wild have been the better team over the last couple of months, and are currently listed as short favorites on the NHL betting odds. Although they’ve lost two in a row, the two losses came to the Rangers and Red Wings, and both were by one goal. There’s no shame in losing to two playoff teams by a goal. And before that, the Wild had won five straight.

Devan Dubnyk has been fantastic for the Wild as he’s gone 26-7-2 since coming over. He’s posted a 1.74 GAA in that span. And while Pavelec has played well in net overall, he gave up three goals and was pulled in his latest outing against Minnesota. For his career, he has a subpar 2.55 career GAA against Minnesota.

While the Wild have lost two straight, the Jets have gone off-course too with losses in three of their last five games. And they’ll have to find a way to win without Dustin Byfuglien, who is one of their best players but is suspended right now. The edge here goes to Minnesota.

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Outlook
The Wild play well in this series as they’ve won three of the last four meetings as the host and six of the last nine meetings overall. They’re probably the better bet on the side but this is too much to lay.

Overall, this game should have a playoff-like atmosphere as both teams are in the hunt for the final spots and neither team wants to give an inch. All four meetings this season have been decided by one goal and two of the games have gone to overtime. Don’t be surprised if this one goes to extra time too as that way, both teams will get a point. Look for this to be a tight, conservative and low-scoring game, so take the under with your NHL picks.

NHL Pick: Under 5 at The Greek