Another Minnesota Wild gameday is finally upon us after a three-day break. The Wild should be well-rested and ready to go as they try to take down the ever-lethal Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. With two games remaining in their seven-game homestand, the Wild are in need of some wins if they plan on calling it successful. Sitting at 10-9-2 on the season, they have yet to string together more than two wins in a row and could desperately use some points to elevate them back into a wild-card position.
The Oilers have been slightly more productive than the Wild this season with 13 wins, including a win last night (Nov. 30) against the Chicago Blackhawks. The otherworldly McDavid has been off to a ridiculous start, even by his standards, and has 41 points in 23 games. Draisaitl, not to be outdone, has followed suit with 36 points of his own. If the Wild want any chance of a win tonight, it’s clear who they need to focus on.
Wild Projected Lineup
Kirill Kaprizov – Sam Steel – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
Nic Petan – Frederick Gaudreau – Matt Boldy
Mason Shaw – Connor Dewar – Ryan Reeves
Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Alex Goligoski – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison
Marc Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson
Latest News & Highlights
The Wild are reuniting the “GREEF” line that was so dominant at shutting down the opponent’s best last season, likely in the hopes that they will rekindle that magic and be a favorable matchup against the Oilers’ top line. Steel gets another game between the top duo of Kaprizov and Zuccarello, while the bottom six continues to rotate as the newly acquired Ryan Reeves is worked into the lines. Jonas Brodin, Brandon Duhaime, and Ryan Hartman are all out with injuries.
Oilers Projected Lineup
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zach Hyman
Mattias Janmark – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dylan Holloway – Brad Malone – James Hamblin
Tyler Benson – Devin Shore – Derek Ryan
Darnell Nurse – Cody Ceci
Brett Kulak – Tyson Barrie
Philip Broberg – Evan Bouchard
Jack Campbell – Stuart Skinner
3 Keys to the Game
Rested & Ready to Roll
After an extended rest, the Wild have a great opportunity to open tonight’s game with pace and outwork an Oilers team that is on the second night of a back-to-back. They must not start the game looking like a team that hasn’t played in days because the Oilers have enough offensive firepower to put the Wild out of the game early.
Smother the Offensive Chances Early
There is no question that the Oilers’ game plan relies heavily on offense, and it will be nearly impossible to eliminate their chances altogether. The key for the Wild will be to limit the dangerous chances. By forcing the play to the outside, winning board battles, and minimizing rebounds, they can limit the high-danger chances against early in the game and take advantage of a tired opponent as the game wears on. Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start. Fleury is a seasoned veteran and can make some spectacular saves, but relying on a goaltender to keep you a game, especially against the Oilers, is risky.
Take the Shot
With Stuart Skinner starting last night, the Wild will likely face the struggling Jack Campbell tonight. With a .875 save percentage and a goals-against average above four, the Wild just need to get pucks on the net, and a few are likely to go in. Minnesota is known for trying to make a pretty passing play instead of taking a shot on net, and while that can lead to some magnificent highlight reel goals, it can also lead to missed opportunities and turnovers. A few weak goals early against a goaltender lacking confidence could go a long way in getting the Wild an important win.
Tonight’s match-up can be found on ESPN plus and KFAN 100.3 FM starting at 7:00 PM 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.