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  • Wild Weekly Preview: October 31st-November 6th Edition


    It's a lovely view from the top of the Central Division. The Western Conference, too, even. Only Edmonton has more points than Minnesota, and it has taken them an all-star cast of young, high-end first round picks to do it.

    Yes, the Minnesota Wild are sitting pretty on three straight Devan Dubnyk shutouts for a 6-2-1 record and 13 points. As anyone can see, it's still very early in the season and a lot can happen, especially when you have a week with a fairly light schedule.

    This Week's Schedule

    Tuesday, November 1st - Minnesota Wild vs Buffalo Sabres 7:00 PM CT (MSG-B, FS-N+)

    Saturday, November 5th - Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche 2:00 PM CT (SN, FS-N)

    Game of the Week

    Buffalo will be looking for revenge after a 4-0 thrashing in their home barn Thursday. How they perform will be a major story line going into Tuesday evening. That said, Colorado is Minnesota's biggest rival, and there is bound to be plenty of bad blood. Former Avalanche star Chris Stewart would love to notch a goal or even drop the gloves against his old team. Someone needs to teach Cody McLeod a lesson...

    Key Player of the Week

    With Zach Parise considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury, expect his mini-me, Jason Zucker, to receive more ice-time. It probably won't be directly alongside the Mikael Granlund-Mikko Koivu or Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle lines, but he should receive more ice-time in general.

    The 2010 59th overall pick finally seems to be hitting his stride, and has shown himself to be the player we've all seen advertized since he turned pro. Zucker leads the club with a plus-9 rating while playing on the Wild's fourth line. For once, however, the club's fourth line is made up of more than just energizing role players. Zucker, Stewart, Joel Eriksson Ek, Erik Haula, Teemu Pulkkinen (thank God he cleared waivers, am I right?!) - all are players that can really be inserted on any line, giving coach Bruce Boudreau another talented "Third-B" option instead.

    Zucker is fourth in team scoring with two goals and seven points, while only defenseman Ryan Suter has more assists (seven). For what it's worth, he's tied with Staal and Coyle at seven points apiece. Maybe pairing him with them wouldn't be so bad after all.

    Key Opponent of the Week

    Matt Duchene is the man to watch when the Pepsi Center plays host to the Wild on Saturday. The 2009 third overall pick leads the Avs in multiple categories with five goals, seven points, a plus-3 rating, two game-winning goals, a ridiculous 29.4% shooting percentage and is 59% off the draw. It looked like his time in Colorado might have been done when Nathan MacKinnon went first overall in 2013. That's clearly not the case. If anyone can break Dubnyk's shutout streak (if Buffalo doesn't), it's Duchene.

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