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The San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota Wild will clash for their second consecutive game against each other on Sunday night in the Xcel Energy Center. In their last game, which took place on Friday night, the Wild won 4-1 by outscoring the Sharks 3-0 in the last two periods. The Sharks now are 2-3-0 and are tied for sixth in the West Division while the Wild are 4-1-0 and tied for the top spot in the division. This will be the sixth game of an eight-game road trip to begin the season for San Jose. The Sharks have yet to lose both games in a series to a team so this potentially could be the first.
These teams seem to be trending in different directions to begin the regular season so this will be an interesting game. Let’s take a deeper dive into the Sharks and Wild to determine where we should be placing our wagers.
Clearing the Hertl
With rookie center Maxim Letunov forced to miss some games due to needing to clear the COVID protocol, a lot of pressure has been added to center Tomas Hertl to produce while on the ice. He has been doing just that as he has six points (three goals, three assists) through the first five games of the season. In his last game against the Minnesota Wild, he was unable to contribute as he was held to just a single shot on goal, which ended up being his second consecutive game without recording a point. However, this is going to be a difficult task in this game as Minnesota has been a solid defensive unit. Hertl has emerged as the Sharks biggest scoring threat this season as he leads/tied for the team lead in points (6), goals (3), power play goals (2), assists (3), power play assists (2), and shooting percentage (33.3). He needs to be a factor in the offense if San Jose wants to have some offensive output in this game.
Minnesota has started two different goalies as Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen have spent at least a full game on the ice. Talbot started the first three games of the season but Kahkonen started the next game. In their last game, Talbot left with an undisclosed injury after the first period and Kahkonen filled in for the remainder of the game. Fortunately, after the game it was being reported that the injury is not considered serious so who is in goal will be a question mark. In the first game between these two teams, Talbot allowed a goal on 12 shots while Kahkonen pitched a shutout on 17 shots in the final two periods. It feels like Minnesota is getting into a groove defensively as they have allowed just four goals in their last three games.
Eriksson Ek Does it All
With a handful of players out for different situations, center Joel Eriksson Ek has been thrust into the lineup and has been doing well for himself. He has done well in his first handful of games of the season as he has five points (three goals, two assists). He has been on a good stretch as he has recorded a goal and an assist in his last two games. In his last game against the San Jose Sharks, he finished with a goal and an assist on four shots on goal in his 19:27 on the ice. If he can remain aggressive, he will be fine. However, being a young player in a COVID season, he might just be getting into a rhythm early in the year that’ll help him get through this shortened season.
San Jose has also started two different goalies this season as veterans Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk have started games this season. Jones struggled in his first two games as he allowed eight goals on 61 shots before being replaced by Dubnyk. However, Martin regained the starting role for a game but Dubnyk played the entire game in the first game of this two-game set. In the last game against the Sharks, he allowed two goals on 27 shots in 59:02. Minnesota managed to score an additional two goals with an empty net. He is now up to seven goals in his two games this season. The Wild need to figure out an answer for their issues inside the crease if they want to be a factor in this division.
Minnesota: Wild are 4-1 in their last 5 overall.
Minnesota: Wild are 4-1 in their last 5 vs. NHL.
San Jose: Sharks are 2-8 in their last 10 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
San Jose: Sharks are 2-7 in their last 9 overall.
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Minnesota should be able to sweep this two-game set against San Jose as they are the better team. They have already scored 15 goals in their first five games and are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Sharks in their last game. San Jose has not been a very good team in their last 10 games and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better before it gets worse. The Wild should be able to cruise in this game to a win and I will be taking them on the puck line as well.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams just met and scored a total of five goals, two of which were in the last minute with an empty-net situation. We do not know much about the injury to Cam Talbot and if he will need to miss this game, or even if he will be slated to be the starting goalie. However, Minnesota has allowed 1.8 goals per game this season and San Jose is allowing over three goals per game. I think this game will end up being a low-scoring game, ending around four goals so go with the UNDER here.