Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba (24), Ian Cole (28) and Carson Soucy (21) congratulate Jared Spurgeon (46) on his goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 3-0. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)
- The surging Minnesota Wild have won five in a row and the Colorado Avalanche four going into their March 18th contest in Denver.
- Altitude Sports will broadcast the game starting at 9 PM EST
- Here are the odds, lines, picks and analysis for the game
It’s difficult to imagine two NHL teams being more evenly matched than the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are today. The Wild and Avs will go head-to-head on Thursday, March 18th, 2021 at 9 PM EST. Colorado is listed as small favorites in the Wild vs Avalanche odds.
The Wild own an 18-8-1 record and the Avalanche are 17-8-2. Both teams have scored 86 goals this season and given up 64. Both teams are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They have played four games against each other this season, and each team has won twice. In those games, each team has netted 12 goals.
The Avalanche have won four in a row, and the Wild have won five in a row. One oddity about the Avalanche: They have the fourth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup but are only third in the West Division.
If the Vegas Golden Knights stay in first, Minnesota vs Colorado could be a first-round playoff matchup.
Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche Odds
Odds taken March 17th at DraftKings
Wild the NHL’s Best for Four Weeks
Since February 18, the Wild own the NHL’s best record of 12-2-1. They’ve averaged 3.7 goals per game during that surge. On their recent homestand, they were 5-0 with three shutouts.
Since Feb. 18, Kaapo Kahkonen and Cam Talbot are first in goals-against average (2.00) and second in save percentage (.928). Overall, the Minnesota tandem is third in save percentage (.918) and sixth in GAA (2.37).
Rookie @KaapoKahkonen turned aside all 31 shots he faced to improve to 9-0-0 in his last nine appearances dating to Feb. 18. Only four rookies in NHL history have posted a longer win streak. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/ASHdhX9ftT
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 17, 2021
This season, the Wild have an NHL-leading +26 even-strength goal differential. It helps that rookie sensation Kirill Kaprizov leads rookies with 10 goals and 25 points. Kahkonen has won nine consecutive games.
Avs Will Shop at NHL Trade Deadline
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has to be happy with how goalie Philipp Grubauer (16-7-0, 1.85 goals-against average) is playing this season, but Sakic is expected to look at possible backups for Grubauer.
The rise of the Wild this season is putting pressure on teams in the West to be more aggressive in the trade market. The Wild have looked so strong that both the Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are expected to make a move.
Great win tonight, but if Francouz still has no timetable I think Sakic has to make a trade for a backup goalie within the next few days, I think it’s pretty clear that Miska’s confidence has been shattered. #GoAvsGo
— Cynical CO Sports Fan (@cosportscynic) March 17, 2021
The Avalanche would also like to improve their offense and maybe be looking at New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell. Colorado was projected to have one of the NHL’s top-scoring teams, but they are currently 12th in the NHL at 3.19 goals per game.
Injured Avs D Men Close to Returning
Injured defensemen Cale Makar and Bowen Byram are both practicing and expected to return soon in the Colorado lineup.
Makar, who hasn’t played since February 26, is the Avalanche’s top offensive defenseman. He triggers Colorado’s rushes with dashes up ice or sharp passes. Makar is a dynamic difference-maker. Byram is a blue-chip rookie defenseman.
Makar getting loose ahead of morning skate. https://t.co/8KcRdB3fLK pic.twitter.com/HqLlZmm7NN
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 16, 2021
Minnesota continues to be without forward Marcus Johansson (upper body). He is skating, but no timetable has been given for his return. Wild forward Marcus Foligno will miss this matchup on March 18th and be out another four weeks, according to The Athletic.
Hard to Bet Against Soaring Wild
The Wild may now be the NHL’s biggest surprise this season, surpassing the Florida Panthers. The Wild have the deadly combination of splendid goaltending coupled with a dynamic offense. The Wild, of late, have been the team that the Avalanche believed they were going to be.
2021 NHL Divisional Odds Tracker
Colorado has been strong this season, but injuries, to Makar and Nathan MacKinnon in particular, have made them less dynamic. Once the Avs get Makar back, they will be more formidable. This is a toss-up game. The Wild are 16-11 against the spread this season, while Colorado has been 10-17
Pick: Minnesota Wild ML (+116)
Kevin Allen has covered most major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final. He covered the NHL for USA Today from 1986-2020, receiving the Lester Patrick Award in 2013 and was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 with the Elmer Ferguson Award.