The weekend is here and so is our chance to make some money. We have a lighter slate of games to choose from tonight. Our focus will be on the very competitive West Division. Last time out we were an even 1-1, no reason we can’t sweep these picks to expand the gap between wins and losses. Let’s dive in and break it down. Welcome to NHL Ice Picks.
Season record: 16-11-1
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Vegas Golden Knights at St.Louis Blues
Two division top dogs will clash in this high-profile matchup. Vegas had won six in a row before dropping two straight versus the upstart Minnesota Wild.
The Blues have faired very well recently on their West Coast road trip (4-0-2) considering the barrage of injuries they are dealing with. Jaden Schwartz, Robert Thomas, Tyler Bozak, and Ivan Barbashev, all key contributors, are still out on long-term injury. To make matters worse, two of their main horses on the back end, Colton Parayko, and Carl Gunnarsson are also sidelined. It’s not all bad on the injury front as Sniping specialist Vladimir Tarasenko is finally back. The Blues will still need other players to take on new responsibilities in the lineup.
The Knights are mostly healthy but stud defenseman and former Blue Alex Pietrangelo will not be in the lineup. Head coach Peter DeBoer doesn’t think it’s long-term. Most recently Vezina trophy candidate Marc-Andre Fleury has been put on the Covid-19 protocol list. Third-string goalie Oscar Dansk (.862 save percentage in one start) or Logan Thompson will try to step up to the task. Robin Lehner will be on a conditioning stint.
Despite the Blues being a very tough opponent, the Knights will want to avoid dropping a third straight. The room for error is shrinking in the jam-packed West. Only three points separate first and fourth. In this particular matchup, the favorite is 5-1 while the over has hit in five straight. Both those factors favor Vegas. With Fleury likely sidelined and both teams having injuries on the back end the over of 5.5 is very appetizing. As for the side, you can’t discount the number of forwards the Blues are missing, and the Knights are hungry for a win. Take Vegas.
Ice Pick: Vegas Golden Knights -105/ Over 5.5 -130
Arizona Coyotes at Minnesota Wild
Staying in the West Division, it’s the sixth-placed Coyotes visiting the red hot third place Wild. Arizona trails Minnesota by just three points and the division-leading Knights by five. This will be the first of three straight between the two. They recently met in the desert for two games with each team trading victories.
The Wild wouldn’t be where they are in the standings without the stellar play of goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. He is currently undefeated in his last eight starts. The second-year netminder has been nothing short of outstanding over his 19 career starts. (14 wins a 2.39 GAA and a .919 save percentage). Backup Cam Talbot is more than capable if he gets the nod Friday despite some middling stats( .906 save percentage in nine starts).
Minnesota has been better than expected on offense. They are averaging 3.13 goals per game which is a respectable 12th overall. Standout rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov is leading the team in points with 20 in 24 games. They will likely face Antti Raanta who has been very adequate(.912 save percentage) filling in for the injured Darcy Kuemper. Raanta was in the crease recently versus the Wild and allowed five goals on 27 shots. Adin Hill is now option B for Arizona. He has a career. 908 save percentage in 27 games.
The Coyotes picked up three points in their last two games, both versus the powerful Avalanche. However, the shots on goal in those games suggest they were perhaps lucky. They only mustered up 14 shots in both contests while allowing 46 and 35 respectively. Arizona has actually been outshot in nine straight games. They are 5-3-1 over the span but need to be better as suggested by head coach Rick Tocchet.
The Wild are one of the more exciting and fascinating teams this season. If we get their best tonight they should glide past the overmatched Coyotes.
Ice Pick: Minnesota Wild -200
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