NHL Picks: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche Game 1

Ross Benjamin

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 3:45 PM GMT

Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2014 3:45 PM GMT

A couple of up and coming teams begin their Western Conference 1st Round Playoff series on Thursday when Colorado plays host to Minnesota. Our resident sports pick expert details the specifics in this contest and provides you with his NHL free pick.

Upstart Teams Looking to Advance
The Avalanche will host the Wild on Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado with the opening face-off slated for 9:35 PM ET. According to NHL betting odds the Avalanche is a -135 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0. This will be the opening game of a Western Conference Quarterfinal best-of-7 series between the #2 seed Avalanche and the #7 seed Wild. Minnesota has won 10 of their last 14-games at Colorado. These teams have seen just 3 of their last 11 meetings stay under the total.

[gameodds]7/263956/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Getting Beyond the 1st Round for Starters
The Minnesota Wild did make the playoffs a season ago only to be eliminated during the 1st round in 5-games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. This time around just making the playoffs isn’t just good enough. Despite the disparity in point totals between these two teams the Wild truly believes they can win this series versus the upstart Avalanche. They were also given a renewed confidence with the acquisition of veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov at the trade deadline. With Bryzgalov in goal the Wild earned at least 1-point in all 10 of his starts, and won 7 of those 10. They also were able to snatch a sniper in Matt Moulson from the Buffalo Sabres to aid with their scoring depth. Moulson has scored 20-goals or more on 5 separate occasions, and twice has eclipsed the 30-goal plateau. The Wild finished the regular season by winning 6 of their last 8-games, and earned at least 1-point in 7 of those 8. The Wild were 17-24 versus the money line on the road this season, and went over the total in just 13 of those 41-games.

Take a Look at the Avalanche vs. Wild Series Price

A Remarkable Turnaround
The Colorado Avalanche went from being a doormat in the Western Conference a season ago to the Central Division champions, and the #2 seed in the West entering this postseason. This club arrived well ahead of schedule behind the guidance of NHL Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy. This is also the first ever head coaching job in the NHL for Roy who has made the jump from the OHA Junior A circuit seamlessly. Colorado went a stellar 26-15 versus the money line at the Pepsi Center in Denver this season. This is a club with a plethora of highly skilled young forwards that averaged 3.0 goals per game which ranked 4th in the NHL. The one obstacle they will need to overcome in this series is the loss of leading scorer Matt Duchene who sustained a knee injury late in the regular season. Duchene is listed as doubtful for the 1st round of the playoffs. Colorado finished the regular season by going under the total in 8 of their last 10-games, including the last 5 at home.

Free Picks & Betting Predictions Throughout the NHL Series

NHL Betting System
Any money line home favorite of -120 to -170 that’s coming off 1 or more games in a row going under the total, versus an opponent coming off 3 or more games going over the total, has gone 78-37 (67.8%) during the last 5 seasons.

Free Hockey Pick: Colorado -135 over Minnesota

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