Another week of Minnesota Wild hockey is starting tonight as they host the Montreal Canadiens to start a little tiny two-game homestand before heading on the road once again.
Wild vs. Canadiens
When: 7:00 p.m. CT
Where: Xcel Energy Center
TV: BSN, BSWI, TSN2, RDS
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM
After starting off the season losing their first three, the Wild have recently picked up the pace and currently have a 4-4-1 record. They are not still without their warts, but the overall sense of the team is being back to that playoff mainstay and that they are not going to have a one-off wasted season where we suddenly care about the draft lottery.
Now with some momentum behind them and players getting into the rhythm of the full season, they have a Canadiens team that is certainly doing better than anyone imagined. Just last game, they suffocated the St. Louis Blues with a 7-4 win and beat the hot Buffalo Sabres earlier. Their last defeat was to, none other than the Wild. So this will prove to be an interesting matchup and the last time we have to see these Quebecois.
Projected Wild lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Matt Boldy — Joel Eriksson Ek — Mason Shaw
Brandon Duhaime — Marco Rossi — Tyson Jost
Sam Steel — Connor Dewar — Steven Fogarty
Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Calen Addison
Jon Merrill — Matt Dumba
Marc Andre Fleury will start against his hometown team.
With Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman recently injured, and Jordan Greenway not ready quite yet — although he did skate with the group at an optional practice this morning, just not during the line rushes — Mason Shaw is getting his big chance to impress, playing next to Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy. Wowzers. And recently-called-up and Edina native, Steven Fogarty his NHL season debut for his hometown Wild.
Not a massive overhaul of the lineup but still significant enough to be on the lookout for some immediate chemistry. Shaw’s promotion up the lineup is certainly earned, and this will be a big test as he will get a boatload of minutes with a whole lot of skill.
Projected Canadiens lineup:
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Kirby Dach
Josh Anderson — Christian Dvorak — Brendan Gallagher
Joel Armia — Sean Monahan — Mike Hoffman
Michael Pezzetta — Jake Evans — Juraj Slafkovsky
Kaiden Guhle — David Savard
Jordan Harris — Johnathan Kovacevic
Arber Xhekaj — Chris Wideman
Jake Allen is your projected starter for the Habs.
This is basically the same lineup the Canadiens had when they faced Minnesota at home earlier, when the two teams collided into a fairly even result, keeping the score close and just a couple shots were the difference for that battle. It’s a very whatever group of guys that features some youth, some veterans, and some other unproven players — but still some holes that the Wild can expose.
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.
Can the Wild not rely on the power play?
Right now, it seems that the entirety of the Wild’s offense stems from getting that top-heavy first powerplay unit on the ice for 90 seconds as they force their way into scoring a goal. It’s not the worst strategy, and it’s certainly working, but maybe we can get a tight affair that features more than three goals scored at 5-on-5? Maybe.
How will Mason Shaw look with skill around him?
We touched on it earlier, but this is a massive chance for Shaw to prove that he can be more than just an energy guy on the fourth line. He fits that archetype perfectly well right now, but maybe there’s a little bit more that will be discovered tonight. Shaw is just 23 years old, so we’re not ready to put him in a labelled box quite yet. Perhaps tonight will be the kicking-off point for him to be that perfect complimentary winger for two highly skilled forwards. Minnesota’s own Zach Hyman, if you will. Hell, he tries hard enough.
I am begging any deity at all, can we see Marco Rossi score a goal?
Tonight might be the night. I’m feeling it more and more. The vibes are out and we are getting closer to seeing Rossi score his first career NHL goal. It’s a bit of a bummer that he doesn’t even have a point yet in the eight games he played, but let’s just have him break out at home against a team that is ripe for the picking. Get that goal Marco!