Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:15 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. Last night was a typical night in the NHL in that the second best team on the ice won more games than they lost. Toronto dominated the Ducks and whacked them 6-1. The other three winners last night, Philadelphia, the Kings and Dallas were all badly outplayed yet all three won. Arizona had 14 High Danger Scoring Chances and lost to a Dallas squad that had three (!) High Danger Scoring Chances. The Canucks out-Corsied the Flyers 59-39 and out-chanced them but lost 2-1. Finally, the Rangers were all over the Kings but lost 4-3 in OT. Of the four teams that deserved to win, only one emerged with a victory. Why? We’ve said it numerous times and we’ll repeat it again that goaltending has the biggest impact on the outcome of games. The Kings won last night because King Henrik was pure garbage and the Stars won because Darcy Kuemper couldn’t stop a puck. Vancouver lost because it ran into a hot goaltender. Again, this was not a unique night in the NHL, which brings us to this goaltending mismatch.
After being a somewhat reliable option for the first 2½-months of the season, Carter Hutton’s numbers are nosediving. After posting a brutal 4.15 GAA and .860 SV% over the month of January, Hutton’s struggles continued in February where he allowed four goals on 22 shots before being pulled at the end of the second period in the Sabres’ eventual 7-3 loss to Chicago. Hutton is fighting the puck on practically every shot and Linus Ullmark’s numbers aren’t much better. At the time of this writing, no goaltender was confirmed for the Sabres but the guy with the contract will get the longer rope. That would be Hutton.
For the Wild, it’ll likely be Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk continues to provide the Wild with stable and sometimes spectacular goaltending. He rarely allows a soft goal and in fact ranks 1st in the NHL in xSV% on unblocked shots. In other words, if he sees it, he stops it. Analytically, very little separates the Wild and Sabres. They are as close to being as evenly matched as any two teams in the league if you take the goaltenders out of the equation. However, one cannot take the goaltenders out of the equation unless the price dictated that there was too much value on the team with the inferior goaltending. In this instance, the games is priced right if the goaltenders were equal but they’re not. Give a massive edge to the Wild in goal and because of that, this ticket has a great chance of being cashed.
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Minnesota -½ +162 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.24)