San Jose Sharks @ Minnesota Wild Free NHL Pick 1/10/12
Teams from the Western Conference who engaged in a blockbuster trade before the season ever started will square off on Tuesday in NHL betting action, as the Minnesota Wild take on the San Jose Sharks.
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In that trade, the Sharks picked up Martin Havlat, who was one of the best scorers for Minnesota last year. This season, he has only scored two goals and had 13 assists, but he has been out of the lineup since December with a leg injury and won’t play in this one. This game could be the return of Antero Niittymaki. Niittymaki had surgery to his hip in September, and he finally seems to be ready to come back to the lineup. He will be a huge help for a team that is doing an okay job this year defensively at 2.3 goals per game allowed. The big defensive issue that this team has is on the penalty kill. The kill ranks second to last in the league, allowing goals on a whopping 24.1 percent of its opportunities. The offense is only good for 2.8 goals per game this year, which is a far cry from what we have come to expect from a team that is just generally stacked with talent. That being said, the Sharks are still in first place in the Pacific Division, and with all that has gone wrong this year, that is scary for the rest of the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, the Wild started the year like gangbusters and looked to be well on their way to the playoffs this year. However, the team only has one win since December 10th, and that has caused them to fall out of first place in the Northwest Division and dangerously close to the wrong side of the playoff picture. Sure, it hurt to trade Havlat away, but what Minnesota got back with Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi were two fantastic players. Heatley has a team high 13 goals this season, though Setoguchi has underachieved just a bit. In the end, this offense only has 96 goals scored this year, which ranks second to last in the league, and that isn’t going to cut it. In fact, the Wild are No. 23 or worse in almost every offensive category this season, and they absolutely have to get something going against the Sharks to come away with a win on Tuesday night.
San Jose Sharks @ Minnesota Wild Pick: It’s hard to back the Wild right now, but there has to be a point that they get back in the win column. They will have had a few days off to prepare for this one, and they are going to be happy to have had that time to get back to their winning ways. Look for Minnesota to log its 12th win of the season at home this year at the expense of the Pacific Division leaders.
Free Hockey Pick: Minnesota Wild
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