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Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks Betting Preview and Free Pick

August 1, 2020
Sunday NHL Hockey Free Pick

The NHL has returned to action, and among the eight qualifying round matchups to open things is a Western Conference showdown that should be highly-competitive. The No. 10 Minnesota Wild will face the No. 7 Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-five series that begins late Sunday night, with the winner advancing to the “first round” and the loser of the series heading back to the states.

Here is a preview of Game 1 between the Wild and Canucks, along with a free pick from Gameadvisers.. Currently, Vancouver is favored at -120 to win the game.

Wild Outlook

The Wild were a difficult team to figure out this season. At times, they had the look of a solid playoff team, while other times they looked lost. Sitting in sixth in the Central division, they were on track to miss the playoffs before the hiatus, but now the 35-27-7 Wild get a chance to officially enter the postseason by winning in the qualifying round.

Minnesota grades out as an okay offensive team. They sit 12th with 3.16 goals per game and 10th with a 21.3 power play percentage. The defense was shaky though, giving up the 23rd-ranked 3.14 goals against per game and sitting just 25th with a 77.2 penalty kill percentage.

LW Kevin Fiala had a breakout year for Minnesota, leading the team with 54 points. Among the other point leaders who will suit up for the Wild include D Ryan Suter, who put up 48 points including a team-high 40 assists. C Eric Staal had 47 points and LW Zach Parise had 46 points, including a team-leading 25 goals. Those vets were the only ones to eclipse the 40-point mark for Minnesota, but surely others like RW Mats Zuccarello and D Jared Spurgeon will play a big role for the Wild.

Canucks Outlook

After a few years of a grueling rebuild, the Canucks finally seemed to break through this season. Vancouver finished at 36-27-6, fourth in the Pacific but good enough to where they would have earned a playoff spot at the rate they were going. A series win for the Canucks would mean their first trip to the postseason since the 2014-15 season.

Offensively, Vancouver was one of the better teams in the league. They sat eighth in the NHL with 3.25 goals per game, not to mention their fourth-rated power play percentage of 24.1 and their top-10 shooting percentage. Defense was a little different, where despite an average 16th-ranked penalty kill percentage of 80.5, they allowed 3.10 goals per game on the fourth-most shots per game at 33.3.

The Canucks had a couple of high-end scorers this year, namely centers J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson. The veteran Miller broke out this season to lead the team with 45 assists and 72 points, while the former Calder winner Pettersson put up 66 points in 68 games. Another youngster is D Quinn Hughes, who put up 53 points and is the favorite to win this year’s Calder Trophy. C Bo Horvat, LW Tanner Pearson and RW Brock Boeser all eclipsed the 40-point mark for Vancouver.

Goalies

While there has been no official announcement yet from either team, we have some idea of who will get the nod in net for Game 1. Minnesota may turn to Alex Stalock, who took over for the struggling Devan Dubnyk and finished 20-11-4 with a 2.67 GAA and .910 save percentage. Meanwhile, Vancouver will likely turn to Jacob Markstrom, as the veteran went 23-16-4 this year with a 2.75 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Previous Matchups

The Wild and Canucks have met three times prior in 2020. The first was in January, when Pettersson’s 21st goal of the season and Markstrom’s 23 saves helped Vancouver cruise to a 4-1 win in Minneapolis. A few weeks later, the Wild got their revenge at home. Kevin Fiala’s 12th goal was one of three Minnesota scored in the first period, as they managed to win 4-2 in the rematch. Then in the tie-breaker late February in Vancouver, Alex Galchenyuk scored the tying goal late in the third as well as the shootout winner for the Wild, who won 4-3.

Prediction

The return to action will affect teams in different ways. One of the fun things that is interesting about this series is how a veteran-filled Wild core will come out on Sunday compared to a much-younger Canucks core. All that being said, I’m siding with the better goaltending and fresher legs, which belong to Vancouver. Give me the Canucks to take Game 1 in this qualifying round series.

Head to our favorite pay per head bookie site at Payperhead247 and bet the Canucks -120.

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