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  • Preview: Wild in Tampa hoping for rebound


    With their fathers, brothers, and mentors by their side, the Minnesota Wild are visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning with hopes and dreams that they can get back on track.

    Wild at Lightning

    When: 6:00 p.m. CT
    Where: Amalie Arena
    Radio: KFAN 100.3

    Don’t look now, but the Wild’s once-comfy playoff spot is about to be bombarded by the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. Just over a week ago, the Wild have a five-spot cushion over the Avalanche, while also being five points behind the Winnipeg Jets. A secure cocoon of playoff probability.

    Unfortunately, the Avalanche have made up ground with a five-game win streak and the Wild have coincidently lost their last two games and that plump cushion has deflated to just a single point in the standings. And of course, now they’re facing the Lightning when they need two points.

    The first game of this two-game season series ended up being a 5-1 win for our Wild in St. Paul and really kicked off the new year in a massive way. Unfortunately, they lost the next three games, then won their next three, and then lost their next two. It has caused a series of streaks that we have become way too familiar with. We really hope the Lightning are not looking for revenge.

    Projected Wild lineup

    Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Ryan Hartman
    Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
    Ryan Hartman — Frederick Gaudreau — Matt Boldy
    Brandon Duhaime — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

    Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
    Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
    Jon Merrill — Calen Addison

    Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start after a little bit of rest and all the fathers, brothers, and mentors in town.

    Marcus Foligno and Matt Dumba make their triumphant return to the lineup after the former was sick and the latter was a healthy scratch for the last two games. While these two key members should technically make everyone more comfortable and have Dean Evason happy to have his full lineup back, they are facing an incredibly tough group to try and get out of this current two-game rut.

    Projected Lightning lineup

    Brandon Hagel — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
    Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos — Alex Killorn
    Ross Colton — Nick Paul — Patrick Maroon
    Vladislav Namestnikov — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Corey Perry

    Victor Hedman — Zach Bogosian
    Mikhail Sergachev — Nicklaus Perbix
    Ian Cole — Erik Cernak

    Andrei Vasilevskiy is most likely going to start for the home team.

    Yeah, we’ve already seen this team come to St. Paul literally just 20 days ago and while they look to be all tough and mean and good at playing hockey, they ended up losing by a lot when they visited Minnesota. So, should we be that scared of this team?

    Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m.

    Burning Questions

    Will Calen Addison have a repeat performance?

    When the Lightning visited the Wild, the young blueliner had an outstanding performance. Addison scored a timely goal to put the Wild up 3-0 and also earned assists on the previous two goals. Three points all within the first 30 minutes of the game ain’t too shabby. Now, we have to wonder if he will go for that same sort of offensive dominance again in Florida.

    Can the penalty kill work tonight?

    The Wild have had a really bad problem staying out of the penalty box throughout the entire season. It was extra bad when they gave the Carolina Hurricanes a season-high seven power play opportunities two games ago. When they visited the Florida Panthers, that issue was slightly solved by taking just two penalties, but they ended up scoring on one of them.

    So, can the Wild have a really solid special teams night defensively, and give up minimal penalties while also not allowing any goals while shorthanded? It’s a tough ask, I know.

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