A Thursday night home game will see the Minnesota Wild host the Seattle Kraken at the Xcel Energy Center for the first time this season. The Wild have recovered nicely from their opening losing streak and have gone 5-1-1 in their last seven games. They are in third place in the Central Division, behind the unexpected duo of the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, but a win tonight would go a long way to getting them back on top.
Related: Wild’s Rossi Gets First Point in Win Over Canadiens
The Kraken are one of the most surprising teams so far in the 2022-23 season. After an exceptionally bad first season, they added a few key players in the offseason who have brought new life to the team. While averaging over three goals per game, they have managed a 5-4-2 record and, akin to the Wild, sit in third place in their division. With recent wins over the Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Colorado Avalanche, the Wild can not underestimate the Kraken and expect to come away with a win.
Wild Projected Lineup
Unfortunate circumstances have led to an expanding injury list, forcing the Wild to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen for tonight’s game.
Kirill Kaprizov – Freddy Gaudreau – Mats Zuccarello
Mason Shaw – Joel Eriksson Ek – Matt Boldy
Connor Dewar – Marco Rossi – Tyson Jost
Sam Steel – Steven Fogarty
Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Calen Addison
Jon Merrill – Matt Dumba
Marc-Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson
Latest News & Highlights
Active legend Marc-Andre Fleury is back in net tonight with four wins, a .940 save percentage, and a 1.72 goals-against average in his last four games. His play has been dramatically different from the start of the season, and while his stats have been good, his saves at critical moments have been even better. He comes alive when the pressure is on, and he has been putting on a show lately.
He will get help from seven defensemen tonight, as injuries to Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, and Brandon Duhaime have left the Wild a man short on offense. The team has already called up Shaw and Fogarty from the Iowa Wild, and while there are players like Sammy Walker or Adam Beckman who could make their debut, they have inserted a well-rested Goligoski instead. The veteran was a healthy scratch for six straight after playing his 1000 game on Oct. 20 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Kraken Projected Lineup
A much-improved Kraken team may not have a bonified superstar on their roster, but they are loaded with a depth of talent from top to bottom.
Andre Burakovsky – Alexander Wennberg – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jaden Schwartz – Matthew Beniers – Jordan Eberle
Jared McCann – Yanni Gourde – Brandon Tanev
Ryan Donato – Morgan Geekie – Daniel Sprong
Vince Dunn – Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak – Justin Schultz
Carson Soucy – William Borgen
Martin Jones – Joey Daccord
The Kraken have a fluid goaltending situation, to say the least. Regulars Phillip Grubauer and Chris Driedger are both injured, leaving Jones and Daccord between the pipes. Jones missed their last game due to family matters, forcing a recently signed Christopher Gibson to be the backup; however, it appears Jones will be back for tonight’s game with Gibson being reassigned to the Coachella Valley Firebirds, Seattle’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate team.
Key Players to Watch
Minnesota Wild – Tyson Jost
When the Wild acquired Jost from the Avalanche in a one-for-one swap for Nico Sturm last season, he seemed to have a golden opportunity to prove that he was worth more than just a fourth-line role. After a disappointing end to the 2021-22 season, he had a magnificent 2022-23 preseason and showed that he could step up this year and make an impact higher in the lineup. After 10 regular-season games, he has played everywhere, from first-line center to being a healthy scratch and has just two secondary assists.
With the emergence of Shaw, young Rossi, who is putting up points, and Steel, who is more effective with a lower cap hit, Tyson Jost has to play his heart out for the next couple of games if he wants to stay. He has the skill, the drive, and the opportunity. If the 10th-overall pick in 2016 can put it all together, he has the potential to be an offensive weapon. However, if he continues to flounder, his time with the Wild may be limited to the time it takes for players to come off injured reserve.
Seattle Kraken – Jaden Schwartz
The Kraken managed to grab Jaden Schwartz as a free agent after playing his entire career as a St. Louis Blue, including winning a Stanley Cup in 2019, and while the Blues are off to a weak start to the 2022-23 season, he is not. His 5 goals and 10 points lead the Kraken as he has meshed beautifully with the 2021 second-overall pick, Matty Beniers, and 2008 first-rounder Jordan Eberle.
Consistency has been key for Schwartz as he has been one of the Kraken’s go-to players in every game this season, averaging 17:30 of ice time per game. He has also produced four power-play goals, which is vital to improving the Kraken’s power-play percentage from fourth last in 2021-22 to eighth so far in 2022-23. If he continues to produce on pace, Schwartz could have a career year with 75 points.
Tonight’s match-up can be found on Bally Sports North and KFAN 100.3 FM starting at 7:00 PM CT.
*Player statistics collected from Naturalstattrick.com, Seattle Kraken lines from their latest game, and Minnesota Wild lines from @Russohockey on Twitter.