The Minnesota Wild have been impressive to begin the season as they have started with two straight wins. Offseason acquisitions Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have given the team a big boost and the Wild appear to be significantly different than the unit that slumped down the second half of the 2012 campaign.
They’ll get a chance to measure themselves against a playoff-caliber team on Tuesday when they host the Nashville Predators. The Wild are a slight -125 favorite on the NHL odds boards, but can the Preds pull off the upset?
Record: 9-7 (+225)
The Nashville Predators can win because…
They’ve been close in their first two games of the season. On one hand, they’ve lost both but on the other, they took both of their opponents to overtime and lost in a shootout. They haven’t been run off the ice; they’ve just experienced a couple of close calls.
The Preds offense has been subpar so far but they did score three goals on the St. Louis Blues, who are a very good defensive team. They chased Jaroslav Halak after he gave up three goals on 11 shots after he registered a shutout in his first start of the season.
Nashville has played well against Minnesota in recent times as they have won six of the last eight meetings. If they can just find a little bit more offense, they’ll have a chance to win.
The Minnesota Wild can win because…
They’re clicking to start the year. So far, the Wild have played two home games and won both quite comfortably. They disposed of the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 on Saturday night and then stymied the Dallas Stars 1-0 on Sunday.
The good news for the Wild is Parise has been a boon to the offense. He already has three points this season, including the game-winning goal against Dallas. He’s sparked the frontlines and taken the pressure off of guys like Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. Heatley already has a pair of goals, which is quite impressive considering he only had seven goals from February to April last season.
At the back end, the Wild are playing with a lot of confidence. With Suter in tow, the Wild now have a premier defenseman who can go up against the opposing team’s top unit. That’s had a ripple effect on the goaltenders, who have played well so far. The combination of Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom have stopped 47 of 49 shots so far.
Playing at home, look for the Wild to ride the wave of positivity to another win.
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Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction:
The Predators are in a tough spot. They’ve had trouble mustering up enough offense this season and now they have to go on the road in a back-to-back situation (and third game in four nights) to face a defensively-minded Wild team. The Preds did score three goals on Monday but two of them were on the power play. Five-on-five has been a big challenge for them.
This should be a low-scoring affair but that’s exactly what the Wild are looking for. This could lead you to add a play on the Under to your NHL picks, but I think that this also sets us up for another outcome. Minnesota will look to dictate the pace of the game and they’ll do just enough to get by and earn their third win of the season.
NHL Picks: Wild -125