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  • Preview: Wild hope to break losing streak in Vancouver


    The Minnesota Wild are aiming to rally after a bummer game in Edmonton, where costly penalties ruled the night. They’ll likely have more tired legs than the Vancouver Canucks, coming off a back to back and a day of travel. I, too, will be tired because 9:00 p.m. games keep me up past my bedtime.

    Wild vs. Canucks

    When: 9:00 p.m. CT
    Where: Rogers Arena
    Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM

    Vancouver has been absolutely keeping those of us who love the drama well fed. They’re 12-12-3 on the season, there’s talk of trading Minnesota native Brock Boeser as well as pending UFA Bo Horvat come trade deadline time.

    Regardless of Horvat’s future team status, however, he will certainly be present and a problem tonight. Bo Horvat has seven goals and 12 points (7-5-12) in his last 11 games and is fourth in the NHL in goals scored with 20. Quinn Hughes leads the NHL in assists by defensemen with 25, 13 of them coming from the power play. Despite all the gossip and rumblings surrounding this team’s future, they aren’t a team the Wild should sleep through.

    In the last four games against Vancouver, the Wild have come away with Ws but many of them have been hard fought and within one. Minnesota plays hard games against Vancouver and there shouldn’t be an assumption that tonight will be any different.

    Projected Wild lineup:

    Kirill Kaprizov - Sam Steel - Mats Zuccarello
    Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno
    Sammy Walker ? - Freddy Gaudreau - MattBoldy
    Mason Shaw - Connor Dewar - Ryan Reaves

    Jacob Middleton - Jared Spurgeon
    Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
    Jonny Merrill - Alex Goligoski

    I’d take all this with a grain of salt. I don’t yet know the status of Calen Addison, and whether he’ll be a healthy scratch again tonight. Despite losing in Edmonton, I don’t believe those were enormous defensive errors, so I’m not sure if there’s an enormous amount of incentive for Dean Evason to slot Addison back in (much to my chagrin, Merrill has had some warts over the last stretch of games particularly.)

    Let’s talk Walker: the former Gophers captain signed with the Wild after graduating. He has since put up 11 goals and 22 points in the AHL, leading this season’s AHL first-years in points. Wild brass has probably rightly decided he’s earned a look at the big club (I’d imagine for a short stint) and they certainly need some scoring assistance. I’m hopeful it’s to take Petan out of the lineup – not that he’s been terrible, but he certainly hasn’t been a difference maker. Seeing Boldy with a linemate who’s interested in scoring any goals again would be nice.

    Marc-Andre Fleury played last night, so perhaps Filip Gustavsson will get a turn again tonight. He was solid while Fleury was injured.

    See you at 9:00!

    Burning Questions:

    The Boldy Question, The Kaprizov Question: A Tale of Two Players

    I’m throwing the two softballs together. The questions being: does Kaprizov keep scoring and extend his point streak? And does Boldy… break his scoreless streak? Assuming Boldy has the opportunity to play with Walker on his line tonight, maybe that’ll jumpstart some success at 5-on-5 for him.

    How does Sammy Walker’s debut go?

    We like to see our Minnesota boys succeed here; his success is our success. How’s his first outing? It’s perhaps sort of ridiculous expectations to hope to see him save Matt Boldy’s line and light up scoring his first time seeing the big leagues, but who am I if not a dreamer?

    Is the fourth line rolling?

    Last night wasn’t their strongest showing, but before then the likes of Shaw-Dewar-Reaves have been fun to watch. Dewar makes breakaways like it’s nothing; he is so so fast. Shaw and Dewar have especially great chemistry. I know that they average 10 minutes a night — it certainly isn’t worth dragging out my fainting couches when they have a bad night, but having an especially good bottom six was one of the secret to Minnesota’s success last year and it seemed like some of that magic was coming back.

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