The Minnesota Wild will put their three-game winning streak on the line tonight against the second-best team in the NHL: the Carolina Hurricanes. This will be the second and final meeting between the two teams after the Wild managed a thrilling overtime win against them on Nov. 19, during Alex Goligoski’s 1000th NHL game celebration.
The Hurricanes looked like they may never lose again during an 11-game winning tear in December, but since then, they have dropped five of their last seven. If the Wild can capitalize on a wavering club, they might be able to hand Carolina their tenth regulation loss of the season.
Wild Projected Lineup
Kirill Kaprizov – Sam Steel – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
Matt Boldy – Frederick Gaudreau – Ryan Hartman
Brandon Duhaime – Connor Dewar – Ryan Reeves
Jake Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Alex Goligoski
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison
Marc-Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson
Hurricanes Projected Lineup
Max Pacioretty – Sebastian Aho – Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov – Paul Stastny – Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook – Jordan Staal – Jesper Fast
Teuvo Teraveinen – Jesper Kotkaniemi – Stefan Noesen
Jaccob Slavin – Brent Burns
Brady Skjei – Brett Pesce
Calvin De Haan – Jalen Chatfield
Frederik Anderson – Antti Raanta
3 Keys to the Game
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The Wild somehow managed to escape Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals with a 4-2 win, thanks to some offense from the defense, despite only having five shots at the halfway mark of the contest. They ended the game with 22 shots after a strong performance in the third period, but it was thanks to Filip Gustavsson’s Vezina-level play that they were still in the game at that point.
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The Hurricanes are on a different level, and no matter who is in the net tonight, they will punish the Wild if they start the game in a similar manner. They have scored at least three goals in fifteen of their last sixteen games and have the ability to put a game out of reach before the other team even knows it’s started. While no one in the lineup is averaging over a point per game, they are all capable of scoring, with fourteen players that already have 15 or more points on the season, compared to the Wild’s eight.
Mix-up the Lines
For some inexplicable reason, head coach Dean Evason seems reluctant to alter his lines during a game. Even after producing a pathetic three shots in a period, Evason continued to send out the same lines, hoping they would find their game. While it has worked out in most cases, there has to be a little bit of flexibility to try some different combinations in hopes of catching a spark. With the first line prone to struggling, it would be nice to see Ryan Hartman get cycled back up between Kaprizov and Zuccarello or even move Steel between Boldy and Hartman to try to get them rolling. Anything would be better than just throwing the same lines out when they are not producing.
Goligoski Gets a Game
Last season, Alex Goligoski was on the first pairing with Spurgeon. This season, he has been a healthy scratch far more than he has played. He will replace Dumba beside Jonas Brodin tonight in a rare occurrence that has the potential to change the Wild’s outlook for the rest of the campaign. In only his 18th game of the season, a strong performance from Goligoski could prove to be the final straw for Dumba. It is well known that the future free agent is likely playing his last campaign in Minnesota, but a trade could be imminent if Goligoski can prove he has what it takes to still be a top-four defenseman.
Tonight’s matchup can be found on Bally Sports North and KFan 100.3FM beginning at 6:00 CT.
Being from the east coast of Canada, I’ve grown up immersed in hockey since before I was old enough to walk. The Minnesota Wild joined the league right as I was trying to find a favourite team and I have been committed to them ever since. I like to take breaks from my day job of writing reports as a Scientist by writing articles about my hockey passion. Follow me on twitter @tysmck15 for my latest.