Tonight, the Anaheim Ducks could be facing a 4th consecutive loss as the Minnesota Wild have played themselves into the playoffs, winning 8 out of their last 10 games.
Ice time is set for 8:00 pm ET at XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to 5 Dimes Sportsbook, the Wild are a -145 betting favorite on NHL odds. Normally, I would think that this is extreme, but the Wild have played exceptionally well as of late while the Ducks have been basically sitting on their divisional lead: playing uninspired hockey.
There is no confirmation as to who will be in net, but we're expecting a Frederik Anderesen vs. Devan Dubnyk matchup.
Thus far this season, Dubnyk has been a beast in goal. He's an impressive 28-9-3 with a 2.11 GAA and .928 SV% He's coming off of 6-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils in which he stopped 30 out of 32 shots on net. The month of March has been kind to Dubnyk as he's 4-1 with a 1.79 GAA. Minnesota want's to keep the momentum going and one can only expect Dubnyk between the pipes tonight.
For the Ducks, Andersen has also been outstanding in goal. He's 30-10-5 with a 2.37 GAA. Where goalie is concerned, it's pretty much a wash, but Andersen has lost 2 consecutive games without facing a ton of pressure.
Vanek comes into this game with with the most momentum for the Wild offensively as he's coming off off a 2 goal performance in the 6-2 win over New Jersey and has 3 goals in his last 2 games. The power play is something that the Wild really need to work on as they rank near the bottom of the NHL in power play goals and are 1st in power play goals allowed. Vanek converted on one power play against the lowly Devils. At 42 points for the season, Vanek isn't the player that he once was, but is still capable of capitalizing on an opportunity.
Speaking of the New Jersey Devils, one time Devil, Zach Parise, is definitely the go to guy on offense for Minny as he has 26 goals and 26 assists on the season to lead the team.
Parise has been playing very well as of late, coming off of a 2 point game against the Devils. In his last 5 games, Parise has 1 goal and 5 assists and this is a veteran and native of Minnesota that play's very well in front of the home town fans. He averages 1 point per game at home and I expect him to be a factor here despite facing a goalie the caliber of Frederik Andersen.
A Well-Balanced Team
This is the reason for the Ducks success this season. Corey Perry has only played in 54 games and has 28 goals on the season and his mere presence on the ice puts the opposing defense in jeopardy.
Along with Perry, the Ducks feature center, Ryan Getzlaf, who at 63 points, is having an outstanding season. Despite their recent loss to Calgary, Getzlaf is coming off of a 2 goal game. This is coming after a 4 game scoring drought. Ryan Getzlaf is too good a hockey player to be non-productive. Look for Getzlaf to play well as most of his production has come away from the Pond.
The Ducks also expect to get winger, Ryan Belesky, back in the lineup tonight. This will provide a boost to the offense. Belesky hasn't played since February 15th and is primarily a goal scorer with 21 goals in 56 games. This can only enhance Anaheim's chances against a red hot Minnesota squad.
I expect both goalies to play well in this matchup, but Minnesota has been a team on a mission as of late and home-ice doesn't hurt in this particular instance. Take the Wild your NHL pick and lay the juice.
Free NHL Pick: Minnesota -145 at 5Dimes