The last action before the All-Star break takes place on Thursday night with 26 teams in action including the St. Louis Blues visiting the Minnesota Wild on NBCSN. The Blues have really struggled of late and fallen out of contention in the Central Division and there are now real questions as to whether or not this team will even make the playoffs. On the other side, the Wild are neck and neck with Chicago for the lead in the division and the best record in the Western Conference.
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The Blues are completing a quick two-game road trip as they were in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. St. Louis has not played well on the road this season going 7-13 in their first 20 road games with 10 going over the total, 9 going under with 1 push.
The Wild are also coming off a game on Tuesday as they were in Dallas. Minnesota has been a good team at home winning 16 of 22 with 11 going over the total, 8 going under with 3 pushes.
St. Louis has been a decent team on the power play as they are 7th in the league at 22.1% and they are scoring 2.8 goals per game which is 10th in the league. The offense is not the problem. The problem for the Blues is on defense and in goal. They are doing fine in penalty killing at 8th in the league at 83% but the team is giving up 3.1 goals per game which is 26th in the NHL.
The Wild are 12th in the league on the power play at 20.9% and they are 4th in the league in goals per game at 3.3 per contest. They have been a very good penalty killing team at 84.1% which is 5th in the league. Minnesota is giving up just 2.3 goals per game which is 2nd in the NHL.
The Blues have not gotten quality play in goal for weeks as starter Jake Allen has struggled and backup Carter Hutton hasn’t been much better. The two have combined for a collective save percentage of .895 which is the worst in the NHL. Despite Allen’s struggles, assistant GM Martin Brodeur still believes Allen will turn the corner.
“I believe he will be successful and this will just bring greater things in the future — I really believe that,” Broduer said. “Everybody goes through it, sometimes guys have to go through it harder than others. The move that we made with him, I think it’s really to help him get out of this. It’s difficult now, but looking back two or three months from now, this is just going to be a little blip on the radar.”
Minnesota has no problem in goal as Devan Dubnyk is 25-11 with a 1.91 goals against average. It is unlikely that backup Darcy Kuemper who is 5-5 with a 3.28 goals against average will play on Thursday with the All-Star break looming.
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The teams have met three times already this season with St. Louis taking two of the three with each team winning at home. The Blues won 3-2 and 4-3 in St. Louis while the Wild won 3-1 in Minnesota. The Wild have taken six of the last ten at home in this series with four going over the total, just two going under with four pushes.
I can’t take the Blues on the road with a struggling goaltender so I will lay the price and take Minnesota in this one.
NHL Odds: Wild 4, Blues 3
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