NHL picks and best bets: Wild vs. Penguins predictions and prop bets

NHL picks - Wild vs. Penguins - Sidney Crosby
NHL picks for Wild vs. Penguins feature the return of Penguins F Sidney Crosby. (Photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Wild vs. Penguins pits one of the league’s worst defensive teams against one of the best offenses – which makes the matchup perfect for some NHL picks and predictions.

The expected return of Penguins forward Sidney Crosby adds even more excitement to Tuesday’s NHL picks.

NHL picks and prop bets

NHL odds: Minnesota Wild (+150) at Pittsburgh Penguins (-175), Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

For the first time since Nov. 9, Sidney Crosby is expected to take the ice Tuesday for the Penguins. Pittsburgh went 18-6-4 without Crosby, despite being one of the most injured teams in hockey this season.

Due to Crosby’s unofficial status, FanDuel is currently only offering limited Penguins prop bets. More should be added before the puck drops.

Evgeni Malkin, Crosby’s longtime teammate, is still producing in his 14th season. Malkin over 0.5 goals (+182) is a good place to start with our NHL picks Tuesday. Malkin has 13 goals in 32 games, recording two of them on Pittsburgh’s recent three-game road trip. Against a Wild defense allowing 3.29 goals per game, Malkin should have some opportunities to score.

Forward Bryan Rust, a linemate of Malkin’s, is tied for the lead on Pittsburgh in plus minus (17). Rust plus minus over 0.5 (+154) offers some real value playing on a productive line against a weak defense.

Speaking of value, consider Patric Hornqvist over 0.5 goals (+205). Of his 11 goals in 28 games, Hornqvist has five goals in his last seven games.

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Eric Staal leads the Wild in goals (16), although the veteran center has just one goal in his last six games. Staal over 0.5 goals (+225) will be the first of our NHL picks Tuesday for the Wild. While the Penguins rank seventh in goals allowed per game (2.71), Pittsburgh does not have a shutout since Dec. 12. Someone from Minnesota is likely to find the back of the net and Staal is a good place to start. Based on value, this could be my best bet of the night.

Staal is also tied for second on the Wild in assists (17). Having gone nine straight games without an assist, Staal over 0.5 assists (+235) has some value if he can end his drought here.

Defenseman Ryan Suter leads the Wild in assists (24). Consider Suter over 0.5 points (+100). Out of those 24 assists, 10 have come on the power play. Suter over 0.5 power play points (+460) offers a lot of value on what I would recommend might be worth a small wager.

As a longshot, consider Jason Zucker over 0.5 goals (+260) as one of your NHL picks Tuesday. Zucker recorded a goal when these two teams met in November and has 12 goals in 35 games. He has just one goal in his last six games, so Zucker could be due.

I don’t love the Penguins at -175. In fact, Wild +150 has some appeal to me. Pittsburgh is returning from a three-game West Coast trip and it’s fair to question how Crosby will fit into the lineup in his return.

If forced to make a Wild vs. Penguins prediction, I have a slight lean towards Wild +150.  Having lost five of their last six games, this could be a breakout game for the Wild.

Wild vs. Penguins prediction: Wild +150

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