The December 29th NHL free pick line started off with Winnipeg being listed at -175 vs. the Wild. Not unheard of considering the Jets are the top team in the West and Minnesota is mired in a 5 game losing streak. Even with about 80% of the bets on Winnipeg however, the line has shifted down to WIN -150. The Jets are (seemingly) a very solid wager in this one – but doesn’t it seem like there’s too much value on the home team?
Wild Struggling on Both Ends of the Ice
Besides not being able to score or stop the other team from scoring things are going just swimmingly for Minnesota. The Wild enter the December 29th NHL free pick on a season-long 5 game losing streak. Even if they had been getting stellar goaltending, you’re not going to win many games scoring just 5 goals over that span. Mikko Koivu hasn’t scored a point in 7 games and he’s not alone as Jason Zucker (1 point in 5 games), Charlie Coyle (1 point in 6 games), and Nino Niederreiter (0 in 5) are all struggling. Winnipeg has given up 3+ in 7 of 8 however.
Offensive struggles aren’t bad as long as your goaltender can keep you in the game. Devan Dubnyk has done exactly ‘not that’ lately. He’s expected in net again for Minnesota Saturday afternoon despite allowing 3 of 10 Chicago shots to slip by on Thursday night. Dubnyk got pulled in the 2nd vs. the ‘Hawks and has allowed 12 goals in 5 starts despite seeing more than 27 SOG just once. Winnipeg is the #4 scoring offense in the league and is 8th in shots. The O/U of 6 could go ‘over’ early.
Winnipeg Should Dominate – But Will They?
The December 29th NHL free pick is a rematch of last year’s opening round playoff series in which Winnipeg won 4 games to 1. That would suggest the Jets have Minnesota’s number but when the teams met up in November of this year the Wild notched a 4-2 win as -110 favorites. The Jets have a huge home ice advantage today at the Bell MTS Place where they are 13-5-1 this year. That being said Calgary rolled in on a 4 game losing streak on Thursday and notched a 4-1 win. The Jets could have been a little sluggish in that one after having 4 days off but either way it wasn’t a good showing.
For as potent as the Jets offense is on paper, they’ve been held to 1 goal in 3 of the last 4 games. Granted three of those were on the road and prior to the Calgary loss Winnipeg had scored 5+ in four straight games on their own ice. Patrik Laine is on a 4-game pointless streak and Blake Wheeler hasn’t scored a goal in 8 games. If the Jets offense does struggle again it will be up to Connor Hellebuyck to make sure the Wild skaters continue to sputter. Hellebuyck is 4-2 over his last 6 but he’s allowed 3+ in each game.
December 29th NHL Free Pick Betting
By all accounts Winnipeg should win this contest vs. the Wild who are on a 5-game losing streak. The line movement tells kind of a different story however. Winnipeg has struggled a bit on offense lately and Dubnyk hasn’t been as horrible in net as his record indicates (2 goals or less in 5 of 7). The Jets just seem too easy in this one so go the other way.
NHL Free Pick: Minnesota Wild +136