After a comeback-win at home versus the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes are now in sole possession of the fourth and final playoff spot. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper picked up the win upon returning from an injury, and the team now has its sights set on Monday’s matchup against the Minnesota Wild.
There’s a 12-point gap between the two teams and, unlike the Coyotes, the Wild are almost certain to make the playoffs. However, bettors shouldn’t put too much stock into motivation, or lack thereof. This is an important game for both teams — albeit for different reasons. The Coyotes are clinging to a playoff spot while the Wild are chasing the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche atop the division.
These two teams didn’t meet for the first time until March 5, but they’ve seen each other six times in the last six weeks. The Wild have won five of the six meetings and comfortably covered the puck line as the favorite each time. The lone Coyotes win came on the back of an outstanding performance by Kuemper in which he stopped 32 of 34 shots, and he’ll almost certainly get the start against the Wild.
Kuemper is a formidable adversary, but Cam Talbot has arguably been the better goaltender. Talbot’s .926 save percentage is the fifth best amongst goaltenders who have faced at least 1,000 unblocked shot attempts, according to Evolving Hockey. While the fact that this will be the third game in four days for the Wild should not be dismissed, Talbot did get the last game off and will be fresh for Monday.
When the teams met just last week, the Wild closed north of -200 on the moneyline. Naturally, the price has come down now that Kuemper is back, but bookmakers have seemingly over-adjusted as DraftKings has listed the Wild at -136. Bettors should be comfortable laying an even bigger price than that as the Wild should get the job done approximately 61.5 percent of the time, which translates to -160.
Defensively, the Wild have owned this season series, holding the Coyotes to just 1.5 goals per game and owning 57 percent of the expected goals in all situations. There’s a lot of familiarity here and the Wild are well-equipped to bring this Coyotes team back down to earth after a big win.
In addition, because there will be a very competent goaltender at each end of the ice, the total will be shaded heavily to under 5.5 goals. This could create a small edge as this game should go over that total roughly 50 percent of the time.
Both teams have abysmal power plays, but take (and draw) a lot of penalties, so the opportunities to score on the man-advantage will likely be there. Betting on either of these teams to go over the total more often than not has been a profitable endeavour overall. Wild games have gone over 56 percent of the time while games featuring the Coyotes are going over the total at a 58 percent clip. It’s a coin flip, therefore, a value bet at plus money odds that imply a lesser chance.