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NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi offers his prediction for Thursday's game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Minnesota Wild.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota Wild Prediction: Expect a Stronger Showing from the Penguins

Following an underwhelming Wednesday slate, Thursday brings us nine games of NHL action. Many of the games are projected to heavily tilt towards the favorite, with six teams listed at a price of -200 or steeper on their respective moneylines. However, this isn't the case for all of them—one game, a showdown between the Wild and the Penguins, is close to a pick-em. Let's take a closer look at how these two squads measure up.

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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota Wild Prediction

The Penguins (40-18-10) have dropped three of their last four, with the sole win coming in the form of an 11-2 shellacking over the Red Wings. Two of the losses were in regulation to the Rangers, results that dropped the Penguins to third in the Metropolitan Division. However, Pittsburgh has played solid hockey this month, out-chancing their opponents in terms of expected goals in all but a few games. I think that they have been better than their last few results might suggest, and like them to bounce back here.

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The Wild (41-20-4) have been on a tear recently—they come into this game riding a seven-game win streak, although only two of those wins came against playoff teams. It's an impressive run of play for a team that went on a 6-10-1 skid just a month ago. As a result, Minnesota is looking like the runaway favorite to finish second in the Central, which would lend them home-ice advantage against their first-round opponents. They lead the third-place Predators by four points and hold two games in hand.

At even strength, there isn't much to separate these teams. The Penguins rank sixth with a 5v5 expected goals share of 54.14%, while the Wild rank eighth with a share of 52.95%. Both have been trending up over the last month or so, and both have leveled off over their last few games. Expect a competitive battle between two of the league's better even strength squads.

Looking at special teams, Pittsburgh has a sizable advantage. Their penalty kill has been superb, ranking second in the NHL with a kill rate of 85.8%. It will face Minnesota's 19th-ranked power play, a unit that converts at a clip of 20.5%. On the other side, the Penguins have an above-average power play, one that has scored at a rate of 22.2%. The unit will look to capitalize against the Wild's 22nd-ranked penalty kill (76.2% kill rate). These special teams discrepancies will further tilt in Pittsburgh's favor due to the fact that the Wild take the second most penalties per game in the league, while the Penguins take the least.

The Penguins will also have an edge in goal as long as Tristan Jarry starts. Jarry has had an excellent 2021-22 campaign after a poor season the year prior; he has saved 16.2 goals above expected, good for seventh in the NHL among all starters. Cam Talbot will man the other goal, and he has been far worse, allowing 3.6 goals above expected this year.

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A concern one might have about this bet is that the Wild are hosting the game, but I'm not worried—the Penguins are one of the league's best road teams, boasting a record of 21-8-5 away from home. Both teams are healthy, so absences won't play a factor either way. Overall, I think that Pittsburgh is the better team and that the Wild are being slightly overrated by the market due to their recent play. Bet the Penguins down to -110 on the moneyline.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota Wild Pick

Pick: Penguins ML (+105) (Bet $100 to Win $105)

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Article Author


Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.


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