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Game 7 between the Wild and Golden Knights is going to be a good one. Pete Truszkowski is back with his picks for tonight's showdown

Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights Game 7 Prediction

There is just one game on the Friday night slate, but it’s a doozy. The Minnesota Wild have won two straight games to force a game 7 in Vegas against the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights open up as strong -167 favorites with the total set at the usual 5.5 goals. What’s the best method of attack in this win or go home affair?

Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Series Tied at 3

It’s probably stating the obvious as we prepare for a Game Seven, but this has been a very even series. It’s been the closest of all eight first round series in terms of expected goals, with Vegas holding a 52.1% share. Vegas has just a +0.91 expected goal differential at 5-on-5 through six games. The high danger chances are also close, with Minnesota posting a 50-45 advantage in that category.

However, the series has been maddening in the fact that it seems the wrong team won every game. Vegas lost game one despite putting 42 shots on net. Minnesota played very well in games two and four, but found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline. Down 3-1 in the series, the Wild weren’t particularly impressive in either of the past two games, but won both.

That’s what playoff hockey is all about and why it could be so fun and/or maddening to bet. It always comes down to the wire and the better team doesn’t necessarily always win.

For that reason, I see the Wild as a good investment as underdogs in this game seven. Vegas is a deserving favorite, but this line is just too large. These teams have played back-and-forth all series long and it’s all equaled out to an extremely even series. Minnesota does a good job of defending and the Golden Knights have been without their top goal scorer in Max Pacioretty all series long.

Additionally, all the pressure is on Vegas in this spot. They were rather large favorites to win this series and they were amongst the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They’ve made deep playoff runs in their first few seasons, but haven’t been able to get over the hump. Additionally, they’ll be at home in this game. They also don’t want to blow a 3-1 series lead. Minnesota has no pressure and can play a more loose game.

In addition to a value bet on the underdog here, I’d also look towards the total.

Over the last 25 years, NHL playoff Game 7’s have been extremely profitable to under bettors. If you remove pushes, the under has won 41 times in 68 applicable games. That’s a winning percentage of over 60%.

First and foremost, these teams realize that their season is on the line. This leads to tight checking affairs and a lot of importance being placed on limiting mistakes. Teams might be more reluctant to make risky offensive plays in order to make sure they’re in the proper position to defend. Teams also might be more likely to dump the puck in rather than risk a turnover by not getting the puck in deep which could lead to an odd-man rush the other way.

NHL referees already loosen up in the playoffs, but that’s even more apparent in game sevens. Officials do not want to put teams on powerplays as they’d like to avoid making themselves a part of the storyline. They’d rather the teams settle the game themselves and don’t want to give team advantages with special teams. Obviously, goals and scoring chances happen at a lower rate 5-on-5 than they do 5-on-4.

These two teams have played six games in this series and the totals for the games so far have been: 1, 4, 7, 4, 6, 3. Even the two games that went over the total were low scoring affairs for most of the night before some late goals and empty netters. Minnesota prides itself on limiting high danger chances and Vegas does a good job of staying out of their own net. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot have had great series as well, combining for 5.4 goals saved above expectation.

Ride the game seven trend as well as the general trend in this series and look for a low scoring affair.

Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights Game 7 Picks

The Pick: Minnesota ML @ +145

The Pick: Under 5.5 Goals @ -110


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