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The Minnesota Wild are on a three-game losing streak.
The New York Islanders have lost four of their last five games.
The Wild were 2-0-0 against the Islanders last season.
Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
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New York Islanders
22-14-4 (3rd in Central Division)
22-17-3 (6th in Metropolitan Division)
Kirill Kaprizov (49)
Mathew Barzal (41)
Kirill Kaprizov (24)
Brock Nelson, Anders Lee (15)
Kirill Kaprizov (25)
Mathew Barzal (30)
Jared Spurgeon (17)
Ryan Pulock (12)
Kirill Kaprizov (4.03)
Shots (Per Game)
Anders Lee (2.88)
The Minnesota Wild will stay in New York and face the Islanders for the first time this season. These teams are having pretty similar seasons and are both on three-game losing streaks. The Wild are in third place in the Central Division with 48 points. They could use a win today (or an overtime loss) to maintain their spot. Conversely, the Islanders are one point out of the second Wild Card spot. They are desperately searching for this win, hoping it will put them in the Playoff picture.
The Wild may be on a three-game losing streak, but they are having a strong season. Minnesota has gone on a few long winning streaks and can battle with the best of them. Offensively, the Wild are mediocre but can go on scoring surges. Defensively, they are a little better and right outside of the top ten. The best word I could use to describe this team is streaky. They are usually on a winning streak but are also prone to the occasional losing streak.
The Wild are not full of offensive options but have two solid ones in Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. Kaprizov is firing on all cylinders and has 24 assists and 25 goals. He has developed into an extremely dangerous player. Zuccarello has 17 goals and 24 assists. Both players are largely responsible for Minnesota’s offensive production this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury is the top goalie in Minnesota. However, he is far past his prime, and his numbers show that. Fleury is allowing nearly three goals a game and has a save percentage just above .900.
The Islanders have surprised many by even being in the Playoff race. However, they have some solid players and have beaten some of the NHL’s top teams. Their numbers are quite similar to the Wild’s. Offensively, they are average, but their defense ranks in the top ten. The Islanders do have one notable advantage over the Wild, and that would be their goaltending. The Wild have decent goaltenders, but the Islanders have some studs in net in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov.
The Islanders’ offense is not star-studded, but they have some solid players in Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee. None of these players are as good as Kirill Kaprizov, but they all hold their own and have at least 30 points.
Ilya Sorokin is having a fantastic season in the net for the Islanders. The 27-year-old only allows 2.3 goals per game and has an impressive .925 save percentage. His backup, Semyon Varlamov, is also performing well, even though he only starts one in four games.
The teams are almost in the same position, so it is hard to say who will win. With that being said, I will give the edge to the Islanders. New York has better goaltending and home-ice advantage. That should be enough for victory.
The Wild will win if they draw penalties and overwhelm the Islanders with shots.
The Wild do not have an elite power-play unit, but they have one that can consistently score. Minnesota converts over 23% of their opportunities, and almost 24% of their goals have come with a man advantage. The Wild have to draw penalties and get this unit on the ice. They are playing on the road and will need this unit more than ever.
The Islanders have reliable goaltenders, but they only face a little over 31 shots a game. If the Wild come out shooting and finish with 35+ shots, they can surprise the Wild’s goaltenders and finish with four goals.
The Islanders are the underdogs but can win if they slow down Kirill Kaprizov and score the first goal.
Kirill Kaprizov is having an outstanding season and is arguably a top-ten player. Kaprizov has 24 goals this season and four in the previous five games. He is so talented with the puck in his hands, which is why the Islanders’ defensemen must make him priority #1 and force the puck out of his hands.
The Islanders have a home-ice advantage and a strong fan base. Their fans will come out with a lot of energy; they need to harness that energy and score the first goal. If they do, the crowd will likely push them to victory.
Mats Zuccarello is the second offensive option on the Wild. The 35-year-old is not performing as well as Kirill Kaprizov, but he is still excelling. Zuccarello must be an offensive menace on the ice today and take every opportunity he gets.
Brock Nelson has become a consistent scorer for the Islanders this season. The center has 15 goals and is scoring a little more than once every eight shots. However, Nelson has not scored a goal in nearly a month.
Nelson must break out of his scoring slump tonight. His goal could very well be the game-winner.
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What: Minnesota Wild vs New York Islanders
Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, New York
When: Thursday, January 12, 7:30 PM EST
How to Watch: NHLPP, ESPN+
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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