Courtesy of RealBookies.com
Virus or no virus, we’re playing hockey! In what is sure to be a wild one (no pun intended), the National Hockey League is thrusting us right into the action with a tremendous opening series between the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks, with Game 1 set to be played Sunday night.
Best in Threes
Both teams are undoubtedly renowned for their toughness and tenacity on the ice, but the Canucks are especially surprising, in a good way. Much maligned and thought to be in the rebuilding phase or perhaps, even a treadmill team, the Canucks have surprised the naysayers and are showing and proving they may be able to hang with the big boys. A win over the Wild would prove that.
With an enviable trio that casts Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, and Elias Patterson, the Canucks have the core that could legitimately raise the Stanley Cup. Standing in their way is a Wild team that, like the Canucks, was similar cast in the light of a potential rebuilding mode squad.
Rebuilding to Competing
Despite the naysayers and doom-and-gloomers, like the Canucks, the Wild powered through adversity to surprise the league and are now competing for a chance at Stanley Cup glory. They don’t have the biggest names, and they are by no means the most dynamic offense in hockey, but they boast a formidable defense that is gritty and ruthless.
Combining their expected-goal rate and their chances-allowed numbers, you’ll see, on paper, the Wild are a stout defensive unit. With Alex Stalock unseating one-time starting goalie Devan Dubnyk, the Wild’s momentum has continued as far as providing competent goaltending. This will be a must against the Canucks as the Vancouver trio will undoubtedly best any trio you can muster on the Minnesota line.
However, that doesn’t mean that veteran Eric Staal is incapable of holding his own. The problem for Staal is that, despite an enviable professional career, he has wilted when it’s mattered most. In the playoffs throughout his career, Staal has been anything but a first-rate player.
It’s not a knock on Staal as much as it’s a knock on the chances he’s had in the postseason. Despite his chances, Staal has never quite matched his same level of output and success on the ice as during the regular season.
The Wild are undoubtedly overmatched in this series, and if they are to have any chance as underdogs, they need a serious effort from Staal to be the best player he can be.
The Numbers that Really Matter
After looking at the lines at America’s Bookie, you’ll see the Wild are underdogs in the series, they are only slight ones. On paper, this matchup is much closer than it looks.
The Canucks are -125 whereas the Wild are -105 to win the series, and to open Game 1, the Canucks are -115 to the Wild’s -105.
RealBookies.com Pick: The goal line is set at 5.5 with -115 on the under and -105 on the over. We really like the Canucks to make a statement in the opening game and to take the series in five games.