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The San Jose Sharks (2-2-0) are continuing their eight-game road trip to begin the regular season as they head to the Xcel Energy Arena to take on the Minnesota Wild (3-1-0). This will be the first home game for the Wild as they opened their season with four road games of their own. The Sharks snapped a two-game losing streak in their last game with a shootout victory by Tomas Hertl on the fourth attempt to take a 2-1 victory. The Wild are coming into this game coming off a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks where Joel Eriksson Ek scored the game-deciding goal early in the third period after losing a two-goal lead. Both of these teams are looking good to begin the season and can make some noise in the West Division.
These two teams are separated by two points in the standings so this could be a crucial two-game set in the early stages of the season. Let’s take a deeper dive into this game and figure out where we should be placing our wagers.
Getting Over 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 four games of the season. In his last game against the St. Louis Blues, he was unable to contribute as he was held to just a pair of shots on goal, ending his streak of having at least one point a game at three. 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 (37.5). 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 last game, but is expected to take the bench for this game. These two have been similar but Talbot has a 2-1-0 record this season with seven goals allowed on 94 shots (92.6 save percentage). In his last game against the Ducks, he lost by allowing just one goal on 27 shot attempts. It has been difficult to score goals against this Wild team, so it’ll be interesting if the trend continues here.
With a handful of players out for different situations, rookie left winger Kirill Kaprizov has been thrust into the lineup and has been doing well for himself. He has done well in his first handful of games in the NHL as he has five points (a goal, four assists). He has yet to score a goal in his last three games played so it’ll be interesting to see how aggressive he is against this struggling defensive unit for the Sharks. In his last game against the Anaheim Ducks, he finished with an assist but did not attempt a single shot on goal in his 16:46 on the ice. If he can become a little more aggressive, he will be fine. However, being a rookie in a COVID season, he might just be trying to adapt into the league and figure out how the game is different from what he has played throughout his life.
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 in the last game against the Blues and finished with a victory by allowing one goal on 23 shots in a 2-1 shootout win. He is allowing 3.08 goals per game and there’s a possibility that it just took some getting used to after being the starting goaltender in the Western Conference Finals just a couple of seasons ago. Dating back to last season, he has allowed 18 goals in his last six games on 162 shot attempts. He needs to improve against a Minnesota team that ranks 12th in the league in goals and fourth with 34.3 shots per game.
- Minnesota: 46-22 in their last 68 games vs a team with a winning % below .400
- Minnesota: 7-1 in their last 8 Friday games
- San Jose: 2-6 in their last 8 games
- San Jose: 1-4 in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Wild should be able to pick up a win here in their home opener against the San Jose Sharks. Minnesota has shown they can score goals as they have scored 11 goals in the first four games of the season, including being shut out once. The Sharks have been allowing a lot of goals as they have already allowed 3.5 goals per game to begin the season. Both teams are coming off one-goal victories but the aggressiveness that Minnesota has shown gives me more of a feeling they can apply pressure and force mistakes out of San Jose. Go with the Wild to win here by multiple goals against the Sharks to open their home set.
Minnesota Wild -160
Full-Game Total Pick
Martin Jones has allowed a little over three goals per game and Minnesota has been one of the most aggressive teams to start the season. Hertl has also been putting up points this season and should be able to put some pressure on Minnesota’s goalies. The over has hit in five of the last six games for the Sharks and is 7-2-1 in the Wild’s last 10 games against a team with a sub-.400 winning percentage. Go with the OVER in this game.