Minnesota Wild Gameday Preview: Edmonton Oilers – 12/12/22

The Minnesota Wild may have stopped in BC to collect a shutout win over the Vancouver Canucks, but for the Edmonton Oilers, tonight’s game is the second half of a home-and-home. This will be the third meeting between the teams in just 12 days, yet it will mark the last time they compete in the 2022-23 season. The series is tied at one, and tonight’s game will be the tiebreaker. With the Wild back on home ice riding the high of a dominant victory against the Canucks, this matchup has all the makings of a showstopper.

Minnesota Wild Gameday Preview Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Jared Spurgeon, and Marc-Andre Fleury
Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Jared Spurgeon, and Marc-Andre Fleury (The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers have had the entire weekend to rest after finally beating the Wild for the first time since Feb. 7, 2019. With six wins in their last eight games, they are picking up steam in the Pacific Division race, where they are in fourth place, just three points behind the Los Angeles Kings and Seattle Kraken. While the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are garnering all the attention, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman have quietly been producing at over a point-per-game pace. Meanwhile, rookie goalie Stuart Skinner is having a consistently good campaign, and the Oilers are starting to look like they could go on a deep playoff run.

Wild Projected Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov – Sam Steel – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
Matt Boldy – Frederick Gaudreau – Sammy Walker
Mason Shaw – Connor Dewar – Ryan Reeves

Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison

Marc Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson

Related: 10 Wild Prospects You Need to Watch in 2022-23

Oilers Projected Lineup

Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zach Hyman
Mattias Janmark – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Kailer Yamamoto
Dylan Holloway – James Hamblin – Jesse Puljujarvi
Klim Kostin – Devin Shore – Derek Ryan

Darnell Nurse – Cody Ceci
Brett Kulak – Tyson Barrie
Philip Broberg – Evan Bouchard

Stuart Skinner – Jack Campbell

3 Keys to the Game

Utilize Advantageous Line Matching

There is no way to win against the Oilers if McDavid and Draisaitl are not covered. Thankfully, the Wild have one of the best shutdown lines in the NHL with the trio of Greenway, Eriksson Ek, and Foligno. With the last change as the home team, Minnesota should be matching the McDavid line with the GREEF line at every opportunity. This, in turn, should allow them to feed their top scorers some preferable ice time against the Oilers’ significantly weaker bottom six. Even with a line advantage, the Wild will still have to beat Skinner, who saved 42 of the Wild’s 44 shots on Dec. 9.

Fleury’s Failing Play Turns Around

There have been points this season when Fleury has looked like the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner, while at other points, he has looked like he should retire. While he has the propensity to make big saves at key moments, his overall play has lacked consistency. Since coming back from an injury in November, Fleury has played six games with just three wins, allowing at least three goals in each one. His .865 save percentage over that same stretch is well below the NHL average, and he will need to be better tonight, considering the elite goal scorers he will be facing.

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In stark contrast, Filip Gustavsson has been heating up and won all four of his games in that same stretch, with a 1.46 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage. His 35-save shutout against the Canucks was the best performance by a Wild goaltender this season, and he should have easily been the choice for starting tonight’s game.

Don’t Gift Oilers Power-Play Opportunities

The Wild’s special teams have been like roulette this season: sometimes looking like the best in the league, and other times looking like they forgot how to skate. No question they take too many penalties, and the Oilers’ power play is a feasting ground for points for McDavid, while his even-strength numbers have not been as good. If the Wild want to limit the amount of damage he can inflict, they will have to stay out of the box at all costs.

Tonight’s matchup can be found on Bally Sports North and KFan 100.3FM beginning at 7:00 CT.

*Player statistics collected from Naturalstattrick.comEdmonton Oilers lines from their last game on Dec. 9, and Minnesota Wild lines from their last game and updates from @Jessi_pierce on Twitter.

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