The slate of NHL games on Friday night will feature a premier inter-conference matchup between the Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Florida and Minnesota both find themselves towards the top of their respective divisions, with the Panthers currently in a dogfight with the Tampa Bay Lightning for control of the Atlantic Division in the east.
For Minnesota, they trail the top-seeded Colorado Avalanche by 11 points, but are comfortably one of the best teams in the Western Conference and well on their way to the playoffs if they keep up the pace.
Florida Panthers at Minnesota Wild Game Preview
For the Panthers, they’ve been dominant all season. Their 71 points are the most in the Eastern Conference and 2nd only in the NHL to the Avalanche’s 74. They’ve been an offensive juggernaut this season with 197 goals for, the most in the NHL.
Their attack is led by Selke Trophy award favorite Aleksander Barkov who leads the team in goals with 22 in 35 games. They also have winger Jonathan Huberdeau who is tied for the league lead in points with 66. If you weren’t convinced by the numbers already, the Florida Panthers also lead the NHL in goals for per game with 4.06.
On the defensive side, Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar have been exemplary and allowed the offense to take control of the puck. At 141, The Panthers have a higher number of goals against than most playoff contenders, but the offense has been so dominant that it hasn’t mattered.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is tied for the 3rd most wins in the league with 24 and is middle of the pack in save percentage at .919 and goals against average at 2.54.
The Wild haven’t exhibited the dominance that Florida has, but they should not be underestimated by any means.
Their attack is led by left-winger Kirill Kaprizov whose 22 goals, 39 assists and 59 points are best on the team. Simply put, Kaprizov is the best player on the Wild and there’s no debate. They also have very skilled wingers in Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello.
Minnesota has the 2nd most goals in the Western Conference and 3rd most in the NHL with 174, trailing only the Panthers and Avalanche.
Their defense has been solid as Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin lead the front line. They’ve allowed seven less goals against than the Panthers and have a solid goalie in Cam Talbot. His stats are not as impressive as Bobrovsky’s this season, but his performance in net has been more than enough to keep the Wild adding to both the win and points column.
The Pick is In
While the numbers say to take the Panthers, you cannot discount the talent on the Wild. In the two teams’ only meeting so far this season back on November 20th, it was a 5-4 win for the Panthers in Florida, with their fifth goal coming on an empty-netter. The two were supposed to meet later on in December, but the Wild dealt with multiple postponements at the time due to COVID.
All that said, take the Wild on the moneyline. The Panthers are the favorite with the line at -120 in their favor and +100 for Minnesota. With the Wild possessing home ice and having kept it close against the Panthers in their only matchup, there’s no reason not to feel confident putting your money on this talented Minnesota squad and you can get more bang for your buck if they win.
They know this is a prove-it game against another one of the league’s best, and will come out ready to put up a W in their house.
Hammer the over which stands at seven and the odds at +105. These are both high scoring teams whose goalies are good but not great. A lot of goals will be scored in this game as these two high powered offenses go head-to-head and they already showed that by combining for nine back in November.