Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche Free NHL Pick 1/24/12
The Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild are just barely hanging on to their playoff hopes as we hit the All-Star Break. In their final clash before the hiatus, these two will meet in NHL betting action to determine which one will be in second place in the division starting the second half of the year.
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The Wild really started off the season in great shape, but there might not be a team that needs the break more than them at this point. They really had no excuse not to still be atop the Northwest Division with as big of a lead as they built up, but all of a sudden, they haven’t found a way to string together victories. Minnesota hasn’t won back to back games since December 10th, and it only has three victories and four OT losses since that point. The real problem has come on offense. Sure, over the course of those three wins, the team has scored five, five, and four goals. However, aside from that, there is only one game in which the Wild have netted more than two goals in a game, and they have been shut out three times in this stretch as well. It is really straining Josh Harding and Nicklas Backstrom in net, both of which have respectable numbers. However if your offense isn’t giving you more than two goals in any given game, the likelihood that you walk away with a victory just isn’t all that great.
The Avalanche have very quietly been sneaking around here late in the first half of the season. They were one of the most embarrassing teams in the league last season, especially defensively, but now, they are in the last playoff spot in the conference through 50 games and have a winning record. The defense is still shoddy, allowing 2.8 goals per game, but that is still nowhere near as bad as the situation was last year. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere both have respectable numbers this year, and no matter which one ends up in net on this night, at least the Avalanche have a goalie that they can trust, unlike last season. Ryan Wilson and Matt Duchene are likely to sit this one out with various injuries, which is going to hurt an offense which is only good for 2.4 goals per game as it is. However, all of the main stats say that Colorado should be doing a lot better than this. It ranks No. 9 in the game in shots per game with 31.2, and the power play is connecting on a rock solid 19.4 percent of its chances, No. 7 in the league.
Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche Pick: The Avs are just in a lot better form right now than the Wild are, and we think that that is going to make the difference going into the break. Minnesota has been atrocious on the road, and it will just be looking forward to getting to a few off days to prepare for the second half of the season.
Free Hockey Pick: Colorado Avalanche
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