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Added November 18th, 2009 by David Glisan

NHL Free Play for November 18, 2009 ‘Something Wild’

Our Tuesday night free play was a winner as Calgary and Colorado played under the 5′ total.  It was a bit of  a sweat, since we had to endure a scoreless third period to cash the ticket but that’s the nature of the beast in sports like hockey and soccer with a thin margin of error.  We’ll use a similar concept for our play tonight:

PHOENIX COYOTES AT MINNESOTA WILD

Hopefully, you’ll excuse the allusion to one of Jonathan Demme’s early films (and in my opinion still his most enjoyable) and lets turn to tonight’s game at the Xcell Energy Center in St. Paul.  Both the Wild and Coyotes win with defense and lack big playmakers on the offensive end.  The two teams we dealt with last night may have been better at the ‘win with defense’ philosophy, but the concept should work here as well.  Everyone knows the off ice issues in Phoenix, and the hockey ops people deserve a lot of credit for cobbling together a competitive team in that circumstance.  The Coyotes have gone under in 16 of their 20 games this year.  The Wild has 11 unders in 20 games which isn’t quite as strong a bias but they’re currently on a run of 3 overs in 4 games.  We’ll talk more about this in a moment.

As we discussed yesterday, the old boxing handicapping mantra ‘styles make fights’ also applies to handicapping hockey totals.  These two teams have played a lot of tight checking, low scoring games conducive to unders.  4 of the last 5 head to head have gone under, and in the games played at this venue the under bias is even more apparent with 11 of 15 in Minnesota staying under the total.  Minnesota has historically done better with this sort of tempo, and that’s reflected in this statistic:  over the past three seasons the Wild are under in 17 of 23 home games with a total of 5′ or less.  That means when a team comes in who wants to play a defensive oriented style, the Wild gladly oblige.

Finally, let’s talk about the Wild’s run of 3 overs in 4 games.  That has also coincided with a three game losing streak due in large part to a lack of intensity on the defensive end.  They’ve had three days off since their last road game and you can be sure that the emphasis in their practices has been on sound defensive fundamentals.  In this matchup we’ve got two teams that need to play defensive hockey to win and that’s another nice spot to go under the total.

PLAY MINNESOTA/PHOENIX UNDER 5′

 
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