NHL four-fold: Wednesday winners to boost midweek profits
The Wild's defence will be crucial against the Leafs, while the Capitals can prove their Stanley Cup potential...
Minnesota Wild to beat Toronto Maple Leafs -
This is a battle of defence versus offence.
The Wild are arguably the best defensive team in the league, while the Leafs are one of the most efficient teams in converting scoring chances to goals.
Minnesota are elite in all defensive categories. They have allowed just 2.04 goals per game – the fewest in the league – and also are top-three in PDO and five-against-five save percentage.
Toronto, meanwhile, are a top-five team in goals for per game and five-against-five shot percentage.
The Leafs have a lot of firepower in their team, but defensively they are a mess.
They have conceded 3.08 goals per game and on average they face 32.6 shots – ranking third-bottom in both categories.
Minnesota are not all about defence. They carry some attacking threat too, and that should prove to be the difference here.
Their top five scorers are all plus players, and the same can’t be said about the Leafs, whose top five scorers are all minus players.
Washington Capitals to beat Boston Bruins –
The Capitals have been struggling lately, but it’s likely that they will eventually at least get close to the level that they consistently reached last season.
This is a team that still has some serious Stanley Cup potential.
Washington are tied in points with the Boston Bruins, just around the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference standings.
But they have played just 24 games – two fewer than their Wednesday-night opponents.
Even though the Caps haven’t been at their best, they still have a decent point percentage of 64.6, compared to the Bruins’ 59.6 per cent.
Both of these teams have great goaltenders and are defensively solid. The power play and penalty kill numbers are also very similar.
But while the Bruins are on a three game winning streak and won’t be easy to beat, Washington is still a bit better team at the moment.
The Caps have the home-ice advantage, so they should get the W here.
Anaheim Ducks to beat Carolina Hurricanes –
This match-up doesn’t look good for the Hurricanes.
Sure, the Ducks suffered an 8-3 defeat against the Edmonton Oilers in their last game, but they should bounce back against an opponent that has been horrible on the road lately.
The ‘Canes are on a five-game away losing streak and their overall record outside of Carolina is 3-7-5.
In the reverse fixture between these two teams, the Ducks won 4-2.
That doesn’t bode well for the Hurricanes’ chances of pulling off an upset.
Anaheim is the clear favourite here, and a comfortable victory would be no surprise.
San Jose Sharks to beat Ottawa Senators –
San Jose is the city that no NHL team would want to visit at the moment.
The Shark Tank is worthy of its nickname again – it isn’t a very pleasant place for the visiting team.
San Jose have won five of their last six home games. During this stint, they have beated some impressive teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens.
The red-hot Sharks are the best team in the league in a few advanced stat categories.
They rank first in SAT Close percentage and SAT Tied percentage, and are also top of the league in fewest goals against per game.
The Senators are not even close to the puck possession numbers the Sharks are currently recording.
This should be an easy selection. The Sharks will most likely win this game comfortably.