Minnesota Wild (23-17-5) at Phoenix Coyotes (21-12-9)
|Date & Time||Thursday January 9, 2014, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Phoenix Coyotes -142 / Minnesota Wild +129 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Wild looks to continue their winning ways as they head to the road to take on the Phoenix Coyotes in the desert.
The Wild looks to extend their winning streak to four games tonight as they head southwest to take on the Phoenix Coyotes as the teams battle it out in the Western Conference standings. Minnesota hit a bit of a rough patch after they lost all-star goaltender Josh Harding who continues to battle symptoms and side effects of Multiple Sclerosis but they have rebounded nicely of late and remain in fourth place in the competitive Central division. Minnesota is a grind it out type of team that will very rarely put on an offensive show case but they are also very strong defensively and have developed a pretty solid game plan to defend against some of the game’s most explosive offenses. Niklas Backstrom has struggled in the Minnesota crease this season so much so that he was left off the Finnish National team that is heading to Sochi and while he will try to use that as motivation to get his game back it might be tough against a Coyotes team who plays well at home.
Phoenix continues to plug away in the Pacific division but with their cohorts doing what they are it will be tough for Phoenix to snag a playoff spot as they currently trail seven teams in their conference. The Coyotes have been through a lot worse and managed to make the playoffs so you can’t write them off especially considering they’re only a game or two from jumping back into the conversation but with a tough schedule ahead they know they’ll have to play with more consistency and get some luck going their way as well. Mike Smith is fresh off being names to the Canadian Olympic team and he will look to solidify himself as a potential starter with some strong play between the pipes over the next month and a bit and with this being his first action since the announcement I’m expecting a solid outing. I don’t like the fact that Phoenix is this heavy of a favourite especially considering how well the Wild are playing of late but I don’t see them getting the win here and as such the Coyotes are the play for me.