Minnesota at Nashville Spread & NHL Pick

Posted by Michael Hunt on Friday,March 31, 2017 10:38, EDT in

It’s a potential playoff preview from Nashville on Saturday when Central Division rivals Minnesota and Nashville square off. A Predators win would make it more likely the two see each other in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Predators will be slight home NHL betting favorites here.

Minnesota at Nashville NHL Spread, Free Pick & TV Info

When: Saturday, April 1, 2 PM ET
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
TV: FSN, FSSM, NHL Center Ice
Stream: NHL.tv
Radio: Minnesota / Nashville
Opening NHL Lines: TBA

Why Bet on the Wild?

Minnesota has clinched a playoff spot but a late fade has cost the Wild a chance to win the Central Division and lead the West in points. They are going to finish second in the Central and would play the third-place team in the division in the first round. That’s going to be either St. Louis or Nashville.

The Wild are hoping to have star winger Zach Parise for this one but it’s not likely. Parise took a high stick from the Washington’s Tom Wilson to the eye on Tuesday night before he crashed into the knee of another opponent, Jay Beagle, and then slammed onto the ice. Parise was helped off the ice and had a swollen eye in what was a scary incident, but it looked worse than it was as he is listed as just day-to-day. While the blow to Parise’s eye was initially frightening, the contact with Beagle and the ice was more responsible for his absence.

“He can see, and he’s fine as far as that goes,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t think he’s going to be out for a long period of time. It wouldn’t surprise me if after the weekend, he’s ready to go.”

Parise has 17 goals and 20 assists in 64 games, and his minus-5 rating is the second worst on the team. He missed six games with a lower body injury and six games because of illness. No. 1 goalie Devan Dubnyk is struggling and sat out Thursday’s game. He should start here, however. Dubnyk has posted a 10-11- 2 record since Feb. 1 with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.

Dubnyk has gone 3-8- 2 in March with a 2.94 GAA and an .889 save percentage in 14 appearances. After not allowing more than three goals a game in his first 27 starts and leading the league with 18 wins and a 1.58 goals-against average and .947 save percentage, Dubnyk has allowed four or more goals 10 times since. Goalie coach Bob Mason acknowledged recently that there have been cracks in Dubnyk’s game when it comes to tracking the puck and challenging shooters.

With Darcy Kuemper also not playing well and the Wild in desperate need of a victory after only three wins in 15 games in March, the team recalled Iowa Wild goalie Alex Stalock on Wednesday to start Thursday in his Wild debut. Since March 1, the Wild has the 30th-ranked save percentage in the NHL (.879).

Why Bet on the Predators?

Nashville will either finish third in the Central and face Minnesota in the first round or finish fourth and earn a wild-card spot and have to face the powerhouse Blackhawks. The Preds don’t want that.

Predators forward Filip Forsberg has been among the NHL’s most prolific goal-scorers this season. During one stretch, he netted 23 in 34 games. After scoring just twice in in his first 27 games, Forsberg is now tied with linemate Viktor Arvidsson for the team lead, with 29 goals.

The trio of Forsberg, Arvidsson and center Ryan Johansen — who came to Nashville in a blockbuster deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Seth Jones in January 2016 — has scored 71 goals, or almost one-third of the Predators’ total production. Predators captain Mike Fisher missed his fourth consecutive game with a lower-body injury Tuesday. If he didn’t return Thursday, Fisher should play here.

After winning just 17 of their first 40 games, the season seemed to be on the verge of becoming a massive disappointment. But the Preds got things turned around in the second half and entering play on Thursday night are 22-10- 4 in the 36 games that have followed. Over those 36 games, the Predators have been one of the better offensive teams in the league averaging more than three goals per game (3.1), more than 31 shots, and cruising along at nearly a 52 percent Corsi percentage.

Minnesota at Nashville Free Pick: Nashville Predators

Nashville trails the season series 3-1, but the Predators are playing much better than the Wild right now.