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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
43-22-9 (2nd in Central Division)
43-23-6 (2nd in Central Division)
Kirill Kaprizov (74)
Nathan MacKinnon (93)
Kirill Kaprizov (39)
Mikko Rantanen (48)
Mats Zuccarello (43)
Nathan MacKinnon (62)
Jared Spurgeon (33)
Devon Toews (29)
Kirill Kaprizov (3.85)
Shots (Per Game)
Nathan MacKinnon (5.13)
The Minnesota Wild will travel to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche for the third time this season. The Avalanche have had much success against the Wild this season, winning both games by scores of 6-3 and 3-2, respectively.
The Wild will soon clinch their Playoff spot. They are in first place in the Central Division with 95 points and have the third-most points in the Western Conference. However, they only have a one-point lead over the Avalanche. The Avalanche have played one less game than the Wild and can take over their spot with a win in regulation or overtime.
The Wild are an interesting team. Their offense is often slow, and they usually win behind strong defense and goaltending. Minnesota only averages 2.93 goals per game but also only allows 2.62 goals per game. While the Wild occasionally shows flashes of dominance on the offense, they typically are very slow and score less than three goals per game. They have all the necessary tools to win the Stanley Cup, but a more consistent offense would greatly benefit them.
The Wild will be led by Mats Zuccarello, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Matt Boldy today. Usually, Kirill Kaprizov would also be on this list, but he will miss this game with an injury. Zuccarello, Eriksson Ek, and Boldy all have at least 57 points and 22 goals.
Filip Gustavsson will likely get the start tonight. Gustavsson has only played in 34 games, but his .932 save percentage is the second-highest in the league.
The Avalanche are coming off a Stanley Cup victory last season and are preparing to defend it this year. Their first few months of the season were not amazing, but they dominated their opponents in 2023. Offensively, they average nearly 3.3 goals per game and know how to score; defensively, they are also strong and allow 2.71 goals per game. Do not be surprised if you see them hoisting the Stanley Cup again this season.
The Avalanche will highly depend on Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and Valeri Nichushkin for this matchup. These four have different skill sets but excel in their roles and can produce on the offensive end.
Alexander Georgiev will likely be in the crease for the Avalanche tonight. Georgiev is not as good as Gustavsson but can still hold his own and make life hard for opposing teams.
This game should be close, as both teams are playing excellent hockey. With that being said, I would bet on the Avalanche to win. Colorado has home-ice advantage and has only lost one of their last ten games.
The Wild are the underdogs but can win if they score first and pass to Mats Zuccarello.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched and are both playing strong hockey, so whichever team scores first will play a large role in the outcome. If the Wild do strike first, they will have momentum for the rest of the game and push the game a little more in their favor.
Mats Zuccarello will be the lifeblood of this Wild offense tonight. Normally, Kirill Kaprizov would be in this position, but he will miss this game with a lower-body injury. Kaprizov’s injury is concerning, but Zuccarello can hold his own. He is a seasoned veteran and has been a strong contributor for the Wild over the last two seasons.
The Colorado Avalanche are the favorites but will only win if they draw penalties and play tough defense.
The Avalanche have a dominant power-play unit that is one of the best in the league. They convert 25.7% of their opportunities (the fourth-highest percentage in the NHL) and have two power play goals in their previous two games. This unit will score again if they get on the ice but can only do so if penalties are drawn.
I spoke above about how the Wild do not have a great offense, but that does not mean the Avalanche defensemen can be lazy. They still must come out and play aggressive defense. If they come out with a lot of energy, the Wild offense will be stifled.
Mats Zuccarello will be the Wild’s top offensive player today. With Kirill Kaprizov out, Zuccarello must step up and play like he is the best player on the ice. His 65 points are the second-most on the team, and he leads the Wild in assists with 43. Zuccarello is a great player but must play up to his potential.
Nathan MacKinnon has been on a tear all season long. The center leads the Avalanche with 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) and scores at an efficient level. He has also had a lot of success against the Wild this season. MacKinnon must continue to frustrate the Wild tonight.
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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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