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  • Preview: Wild finish home-and-home against Flames


    The Minnesota Wild are now taking their turn in hosting the Calgary Flames in the second half of this home-and-home for them.

    Wild vs. Flames

    When: 7:00 p.m. CT
    Where: Xcel Energy Center
    Radio: KFAN 100.3

    Seeing the same team two games in a row isn’t always that fun, but when it comes to the context of where this team sits in the standings, this is fantastic. The Flames are currently on the edge of the playoffs, but still remain five points out of the second Wild Card spot, and after the Nashville Predators have earned some points, are below them in points percentage.

    We shouldn’t technically be concerned about a team nine points below the Wild at this stage of the season, but a Wild win here could really put the final nail in the coffin and have the Western Conference playoff teams locked up. Now, it would just be a battle for seeding and that is wide open, so Minnesota can use whatever points they can get.

    If the Wild win tonight, they will be just one single point below the Stars for the top spot in the Central division. Plus, with playing the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow night, if the Wild can feel themselves enough and snag four points here, they might end up being the favorites to earn that top spot and face one of the Wild Card teams in the first round.

    Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves right now, but this is what it is all about.

    Projected Wild lineup

    Kirill Kaprizov — Ryan Hartman — Mats Zuccarello
    Marcus Johansson — Joel Eriksson Ek — Matt Boldy
    Marcus Foligno — Frederick Gaudreau — Oskar Sundqvist
    Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

    Jake Middleton — Jared Spugeon
    Alex Goligoski — Matt Dumba
    Jon Merrill — John Klingberg

    Filip Gustavsson is going to be the starter tonight, since he played so damn well in Calgary last weekend. That means Marc-Andre Fleury should be starting tomorrow’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

    It will be the same lineup that won Saturday in Calgary, except for newcomer Sundqvist to take his spot where Sam Steel was. Calen Addison and Steel are the healthy scratches now, in some annoying fashion. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a world where Addison gets to regularly play after the addition of Klingberg, unless Evason decides to go with 11 forwards and seven defenseman as his lineup.

    Projected Flames lineup

    Jakob Pelletier — Elias Lindholm — Tyler Toffoli
    Nick Ritchie — Nazem Kadri — Jonathan Huberdeau
    Andrew Mangiapane — Mikael Backlund — Blake Coleman
    Milan Lucic — Dillon Dube — Trevor Lewis

    MacKenzie Weegar — Rasmus Andersson
    Noah Hanifin — Chris Tanev
    Nikita Zadorov — Troy Stecher

    Jacob Markstrom is projected to be the Flames starter, with Daniel Vladar backing him up.

    This is the same team we saw on Saturday, but they swapped in newcomer Nick Ritchie (and gave him a boost up the lineup to the skilled second line) in for depth forward Walker Duehr. Ritchie is annoying enough to play against, so he’s going to be a pain and attempting to clear ice by banging bodies around as Kadri and Huberdeau try to keep possession in the offensive zone.

    Luckily, this lineup just had to go through a rugged game with the Dallas Stars less than 24 hours before puck drop and is probably exhausted to have a back-to-back on the road at tis point of the season. Meanwhile, the Wild have just been getting to know new teammates and hanging out. One team has the advantage, we know that.

    Burning Questions

    First game with all the new guys. How will it look?

    With travel issues for Sundqvist happening so he couldn’t make his Wild debut until tonight, this will be the first game where we see all three of Klingberg, Sundqvist, and Johansson in the lineup. We have already been impressed by Klingberg and Johansson as offensive contributors to this team, but how will the team look with all three? We know Sundqvist isn’t going to be that all-around talent like other players, but let’s just see if he can mesh well and learn quickly.

    Will this game be busted wide open offensively?

    With the Flames tired and the Wild well-rested, should we expect a barn-burner? It doesn’t help that the Wild also haven’t scored on the power play in three games, so that’s just due, but with all this exciting offense now on the team, can we see some run-and-gun action? Just let your hair down, Dean, and let them play.

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