The Wild are hanging tough in the Western Conference postseason position, going 5-3-2 over their last 10 to stay within 2 points of Arizona for the 2nd wild card spot. Minnesota is favored slightly (-115) in the March 17th NHL free pick, but they’ve got a tough matchup with the New York Islanders top ranked defense coming to the XCel Energy Center.
Islanders Look to Climb in the Division
With Washington idle on Sunday, the Islanders can climb into a tie for 1st in the Metropolitan with a win over the Wild. New York blew a huge chance to improve their positioning Saturday, falling 1-2 at Detroit as -250 favorites. Now the Islanders must play in a back-to-back against a Minnesota team fighting for their postseason lives. Even so, New York has gone 4-1 in their last five and they’re a very solid road team going 13-6 in their last 19 going away. Also, Barry Trotz‘ team has gone 9-2 in their last 11 on 0 days rest. Today they see if Robin Lehner can get things back on track in the March 17th NHL free pick.
Lehner had a stretch from December to February where he went 13-2 in 15 starts but he’s fallen off that pace a lot lately. The Islanders G is just 3-3-1 in his last 7 decisions and just allowed 4 goals on 25 shots to lowly Ottawa on March 5th. Sunday’s O/U is still just 5.5 however due largely in part to the fact that the Islanders have netted just 7 goals total in their last four outings. Anders Lee does have goals in three straight games however and Minnesota will be sending their backup in net.
Wild Need to Fix Home Woes
There was a time when coming into the XCel Energy Center was nearly a guaranteed loss for the opposition. That is definitely not the case this season however as Minnesota as the Wild have won just 2 of 11 home contests since the start of February. One of those wins did come Saturday vs. the Rangers as -205 favorites, but of course it also means Minnesota is on the B2B in the March 17th NHL free pick. The Wild haven’t fared as well as the Wild working on 0 days rest, having dropped 4 of the past 5 in that situation.
Minnesota also burned up their #1 goaltender in Saturday’s win as Devan Dubnyk scored his 6th win in the last 9 decisions. Alex Stalock will get his first action in 9 days when he mans the pipes vs. New York on Sunday. Stalock hopes there is some offense left in the tank for the Wild who netted 5 goals Saturday vs. the Rangers. Prior to that Minnesota had scored 3 goals total in the three games prior. Jason Zucker does have 10 points in the past 11 games, but overall how efficient are both teams going to be playing on the back-to-back?
March 17th NHL Free Pick Betting
There’s value on both teams in this one. Minnesota has been horrible at home lately, but at least they’ve been in St. Paul for the whole weekend. The Islanders are playing on a B2B and both games will have been on the road. Ultimately the fatigue from both squads favors the goaltenders, especially when you’ve got two struggling offenses.
NHL Free Pick: Islanders Wild *Under* 5.5