Minnesota is coming off their finest offensive performance of the season while the Blues saw their lengthy losing streak come to a merciful end with a victory over Vegas on Wednesday night. Let’s analyze this matchup and determine which side is the sharp side in our NHL picks on Friday night.
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Friday, April 9, 2021 – 8:00 PM ET at Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO
Minnesota has won three of their last four with the most recent being an 8-3 waxing of the West-leading Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. It was a stellar rebound from their 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado just two days earlier and the bulk of the credit must go to Kevin Fiala for his hat trick and an assist in a game where the Wild scored a season-high eight goals.
Russian rookie Kirill Kaprizov tallied two of Minnesota’s three power-play goals but the irony was the Wild were outshot 32-19, scoring on a stunning 42 percent of their opportunities. The case could be made that the Wild’s prolific offensive production was due more to Colorado’s shoddy goaltending rather than Minnesota’s pinpoint accuracy. Nevertheless, it was a much-needed victory for the Wild as they are now just six points back of Colorado in the West Division.
Moreover, it was the first game the Wild played in front of their home crowd, as the easing of restrictions allowed 3000 fans to enter the stadium. “That was cool, to have the fans here, the energy,” Fiala said. “We like to play in front of the fans, you know? Obviously, to see the hats on the ice, it was very fun.”
Blues Snap Losing Streak
St. Louis had dropped seven straight before their 3-1 victory over the Golden Knights on Wednesday evening and are swimming in the middle of the West Division waters. Only two
nights earlier the Blues were handed a 6-1 defeat by the Knights and lost 5-1 to Vegas to begin their losing streak back on March 22nd.
Yet, had it not been for the outstanding performance of goalie Jordan Binnington, St. Louis would likely be embroiled in an eight-game losing streak heading into Friday night’s showdown with Minnesota. The 27-year-old was on point in a stunning 50 save effort while the Blues mustered 35 shots resulting in the 3-1 win on their home ice.
St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko and Sammy Blais lit the lamp in the first period while Jake Walman made it 3-0 in the final stanza before Vegas’ Nicolas Roy ruined Binnington’s shutout bid with under five minutes remaining in the game.
“That was an embarrassing time losing so many games in a row,” Tarasenko said. “We’ve got many games against some tough opponents right now. Obviously, we’re fighting for the playoffs but our goal is to go on a winning streak so there’s no need to talk a lot about this game.”
Wanna Make a Bet?
These teams have tangled only once this season with the Wild emerging with a 2-0 victory back on March 25th. But Minnesota is a tough team to diagnose. They dropped a pair to the underwhelming San Jose Sharks before beating sweeping Vegas in a two-game set and splitting a pair with the high-flying Colorado Avalanche.
However, the Blues are woefully lackluster on defense and had it not been for a herculean effort by Jordan Binnington, St. Louis would be pacing the floors worrying about dropping nine straight and preparing for a gritty Minnesota team.
And if we examine the categories that matter, we see that Minnesota averages 3.03 (13th) versus St. Louis’s 2.69 (19th) goals per game and allows 2.53 (9th) versus the Blues’ 3.15 (25th) goals per game. Both teams are in the bottom third in power-play percentage but the Wild are ranked No. 3 in the league in penalty killing effectiveness, extinguishing opponents’ power plays 84.9 percent of the time, while St. Louis checks in with a 76.2 kill rate, ranking them 26th in that category.
The bottom line is that St. Louis is not a very good team this year while Minnesota is playing tight defense and should be able to shut down a pedestrian Blue’s offense with little to no trouble. The NHL odds on this game at all of the best online betting sites are revealing the Wild as marginal road chalk in this one and we say they are worth a wager!
Free NHL Pick: Wild -114 at SugarHouse