Just two NHL games scheduled for Tuesday with one ‘off the board’ at this writing. I like a side play in the Minnesota Wild/Ottawa Senators game:

MINNESOTA WILD AT OTTAWA SENATORS—OCTOBER 11, 2011 4:35 PM PACIFIC

The Minnesota Wild are the NHL equivalent of the Utah Jazz…well, of the Utah Jazz before Jerry Sloan stepped down as head coach. They’re a very strong home team and the Xcel Energy Center has become a very tough venue for visiting teams. The Wild were a little more balanced last season in terms of their home/away wins and losses but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them return to their form of the past this season. 2009-2010 is a good example—that year the Wild went 25-12-4 at home but only 13-24-4 on the road.

Ottawa’s performance dropped off precipitously last season, but they’ve got a lot of talented young players in the lineup and there’s a common thread in ‘rebuilding’ teams in all sports—they learn to win at home first. The Senators lacked leadership much of last season with captain Daniel Alfredsson sidelined with an injury but he’s back in business now and that could be just what the team needs to make some improvement. Alfredsson did miss practice on Monday due to ‘flu like symptoms’ but he’s been upgraded to probable for this game. Even if he can’t go, its a completely different dynamic having him miss a game or two due to illness.

The Senators are 0-2 so far this season, losing on the road at Detroit and Toronto. They did some good things in those games, however, particularly on the offensive end. They’re averaging over 30 shots on goal per game and have scored 8 goals this season. Interestingly, all 8 goals have come in the third period which is a clear indication that they need to work on ‘coming out of the gate’ stronger. Minnesota is in the second of back to back games—they beat a poor traveling Columbus team in their opener and lost a 2-1 verdict to the Islanders on the road on Monday. Ottawa last played on Saturday meaning they’ll enter this game rested and—more importantly—refocused.

Ottawa beat Minnesota 3-1 in St. Paul last season and has had little trouble handling the Wild in recent years. The Senators are currently on a 7-2 run in the series including a 3-1 mark at home. At the price, I prefer to take the rested home team against a road team in the second of back to back games. Minnesota has been a team that struggles when they step down in class—they’re good enough to contend with anyone when they bring their ‘A Game’ but not good enough to overlook the league’s bottom feeders. Since 2009, the Wild has lost -11.4 units against opponents with losing records. Ottawa has been a team that has benefited from time off posting a 21-11 +11.3 unit profit with 2 or more days of rest.

Bet Ottawa Senators -110 over Minnesota Wild

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