NHL Wednesday best bets: Expect a tight affair in Colorado
We'll set our sets on three more plays - a total and two props - for Wednesday night's small slate of games.
This is a titanic divisional clash between the Central's top two teams. The Wild currently hold top spot but sit just one point ahead of the Avalanche, who also have an extra game in their back pocket.
A win would earn the Wild a little bit of breathing room and a three-point cushion over the Avalanche (and Stars). If the Avalanche win, though, they'll hold top spot in the Central and have an extra game in hand over the second-seeded Wild. Suffice to say, there's a lot riding on this one.
I think the high stakes could lead to a tighter-checking affair, especially with the Wild missing Kirill Kaprizov. I very much doubt the Wild want to get into a track meet with the Avalanche sans their most threatening player.
I also love the goaltending matchup. Filip Gustavsson is a top-five netminder in goals saved above expected and has conceded two goals or fewer in 15 of his past 20 starts (75%). He is routinely helping Minnesota keep even the best offenses in check.
While Alexandar Georgiev hasn't played quite to Gustavsson's level, he has also been extremely good this season. Among 57 eligible netminders, Georgiev slots 11th in GSAE per start. He also owns a .919 save percentage, which is miles ahead of league average (.899).
The Avalanche are doing a great job of limiting high-danger chances, slotting third over the past 10 games. I don't expect them to give up many to this Wild team without Kaprizov. And, when they do, they can usually rely on Georgiev to come up big.
In a high-stakes affair with quality goaltending, there probably won't be a ton of fireworks.
Bet: Under 5.5 (+105)
Carter Verhaeghe over 3.5 shots (-115)
Verhaeghe is a shooting machine. He has registered four shots or more 23 times over his past 30 games, good for an insane 77% hit rate.
Although Verhaeghe does his best work at home, he has picked things up away from Florida of late. Verhaeghe has hit in five of his last seven road affairs and is averaging nearly eight attempts per game over the past 10.
That is extremely strong volume for an offensive player away from home, and Verhaeghe's recent promotion to the top power-play unit should help him sustain it.
The Maple Leafs have been a good defensive team for much of the year, but we've seen a dip following their 400 deadline moves. Since March 3, the Leafs rank in the bottom half of the league in shot suppression and bottom 10 in terms of expected goals allowed.
Look for Verhaeghe to take advantage.
Nathan MacKinnon over 4.5 shots (-130)
MacKinnon loves two things: playing at home and facing the Wild. Dating back to last year, MacKinnon has registered five shots or more in 45 of 70 games at Ball Arena. That's a 64% success rate.
The sample size is much smaller against the Wild, of course, but MacKinnon has gone over his total in four of five against the division rivals, including two for two this year.
MacKinnon feasted on the Wild in both meetings this season, combining to record 13 shots on a whopping 24 attempts. He hit double-digit attempts in both outings.
With a lot riding on this game, I think head coach Jared Bednar will give MacKinnon all the ice he can handle. Expect him to make the most of it.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.