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Written by Sylas on January 18, 2014

Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars - 1/18/14: Sylas's Free NHL Hockey Pick Against the Spread
Photo by: USA TODAY Sports

Division rivals square off as the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild take the ice on "Hockey Day Minnesota."

Central Division foes square off at Xcel Energy Center when the Dallas Stars visit the Minnesota Wild. Saturday’s game will mark the second of four games between these two sides this season, the first being a 5-2 Wild victory in Minnesota.

On Thursday, Dallas was looking to put together its first set of wins since December 27th, but the Boston Bruins would prove to be too much. The Bruins bested the Stars at American Airlines Center by a score of 4-2. The game was hard fought and the scoreboard was tight until late in the third period when Milan Lucic put the Bruins up 3-1. For most of the game the scoreboard was not necessarily indicative of the play for each side. The Bruins outshot and outhit the Stars for the better part of the game, and even the Boston fans were louder than the home fans. Tyler Seguin came up with two goals versus his former squad, but Sequin remains without a goal in his last seven games.

It is hard to see how the Wild are maintaining strong play, but Wild faithful cannot complain too much. Minnesota is 6-4 in the last 10 games, but the Wild are playing without forwards Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise and starting goaltender Josh Harding. In its last game, a 4-1 Wild win, Minnesota bombarded Ben Scrivens of Edmonton with 33 shots on goal, lighting the lamp on four of the attempts. Without Koivu and Parise, two of the top four Wild players in terms of points, the scoring load has been shouldered equally among the rest of the team, which Wild coach Mike Yeo has to be pleased to see. Parise has reportedly been skating since Wednesday, but he remains unlikely to play on Saturday.

Dallas is just 1-4 in the last five games at Minnesota, and the home team is 20-6 in the last 26 meetings between these two teams. The Stars are .500 on the road this season, but the Wild and the fans take price in protecting the home ice. Minnesota has been a tough place to visit the last few years, and this year the Wild are 17-7-2 at Xcel Energy. I think that Dallas leaves home after a very hard fought and physical game against Boston, while Minnesota is coming off of a cupcake against the worst defensive team in the NHL. With this being the first game of a home-and-home series, I think Minnesota will buckle down and make sure to win the first leg at home. 


Sylas's Pick: Minnesota Wild -142

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