We're confident if you were to ask Marcus Foligno if he would want to face the Winnipeg Jets in his first game back, the answer would be a disgruntled "yeah."
After losing 2-0 to the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 8th in a fisticuff-filled affair, the Minnesota Wild will be looking to build on the two wins they've had since then, even with key forward Foligno serving a two-game suspension for kneeing Adam Lowry. They dominated one of the league's worst teams and won against one of its best.
The offensive depth continues to shine for the Wild as dark-horse Calder candidate Matt Boldy notched his first career hat-trick in just his 13th game. In February, Frederick Gaudreau is leading the way for the Wild with two goals and six points in four games. Last time out, the Jets shut out Minnesota, so getting offense from up and down the lineup would be nice.
The Wild wouldn't be anywhere without the defense and the goaltending, as they've limited their opponents to an average of just two goals in their last four games. With both Kaapo Kähkönen (.932 Sv%/2.38 GAA) and Cam Talbot (.921 Sv%/2.54 GAA) absolutely rocking since the turn of the calendar, they've provided a reliable safety net for the rest of the team.
As for the Jets, after shutting out the Wild, they went out and showed why they aren't serious contenders by dropping games against the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks. They may have sandwiched a win against the Nashville Predators in between those matches, but there is a reason they are on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Mark Scheifele has started to turn it on of late — four goals and seven points in his last five games — but the league's 22nd-ranked offense really feels the absence of Nikolaj Ehlers. Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Pierre Luc Dubois are all annoying enough to cause mental and statistical damage, but when your franchise goaltender isn't playing up to his usual standard, it makes things challenging.
This year, the normally clockwork-level play you expect from Connor Hellebuyck hasn't been there. His .913 Sv% is below his career average, and he hasn't been able to bail out a typically underwhelming Jets defensive corps.
Whatever frustrations the Jets have been feeling this season, it looked like they intended to take it out on the Wild the last time they faced. Something tells us they probably will again tonight.
Puck drops at an uncharacteristically early 6 p.m. See you in the comments.
Can Boldy continue to drive the secondary scoring?
Before the season, Kevin Fiala would likely have been seen as the face of the Wild's secondary scoring. While he has been a crucial part of it this season again, the emergence of Matt Boldy has legitimatized his line with Fiala and Gaudreau as an offensive threat night in and night out. The offense dried up the last time these two teams teed off, can Boldy — fresh off his first career hat trick — breakthrough?
Will Jordan Greenway, Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek continue to drive the Jets nuts?
The stylistic heart of the Wild runs through this trio, and it was the three of them that really got involved in the extra-curricular last time up. After serving his suspension, will Foligno and Friends be reserved or stir the pot?
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