They had to wait a little longer than most, but the Minnesota Wild will finally play their first game of 2023 against the consistently amazing Tampa Bay Lightning. The Wild are 8-2 in their last 10 games and are coming off of a solid win against their Central Division rival St. Louis Blues on New Year’s Eve. Tonight’s contest will be a battle of the well-rested Wild, who have had three days off, against a tired Lightning squad on the second game of a back-to-back.
The Lightning will thunder their way into tonight’s game on a four-game win streak, and their confidence will be sky-high with nine victories in their last 11 games. Their 49 points in 36 games are good for seventh in the overall standings and fourth in points percentage (.681).
Wild Projected Lineup
Kirill Kaprizov – Sam Steel – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
Matt Boldy – Frederick Gaudreau – Ryan Hartman
Mason Shaw – Connor Dewar – Ryan Reeves
Jake Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison
Filip Gustavsson – Marc Andre Fleury
Lightning Projected Lineup
Brandon Hagel – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Anthony Cirelli – Steven Stamkos – Alex Killorn
Ross Colton – Nick Paul – Patrick Maroon
Vladislav Namestikov – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Corey Perry
Victor Hedman – Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev – Nicklaus Perbix
Ian Cole – Erik Cernak
Andrei Vasilevskiy – Brain Elliot
3 Keys to the Game
Get in the Groove Quickly
The Wild had three full days of rest since their last game on Dec.31. In stark contrast, the Lightning destroyed the Chicago Blackhawks just yesterday. The Wild will have to be ready for a strong start from the Bolts as Hedman, Point, Stamkos, Kucherov, and Brandon Hagel will try to catch them flat-footed and out of sync. The Lightning are no strangers to playing a lot of hockey with multiple deep Stanley Cup runs (and victories), so there is no reason to assume they will be any less potent than usual.
The Wild’s top line has been lethal since the introduction of Sam Steel, and the “GREEF” line of Greenway, Eriksson Ek, and Foligno is one of the best in the NHL at shutting down the opponent’s best scorers when they are all healthy. However, their secondary scoring has been lackluster.
Latest News & Highlights
With Hartman finally healthy again and starting to regain some of his scoring prowess, his addition to Boldy and Gaudreau’s line could spark that line back to life. Hartman is known for his grit and his finishing ability. If he can stay out of the penalty box, he has the potential to reignite the star power in Boldy.
Dumba and Brodin Stay Strong
There is no avoiding putting Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin together. They have undeniable chemistry, and when they are rolling, they can be an unstoppable duo. On the other hand, there have been more than a couple of games this season when both players have been off of their game and were easily the worst defensive pair on the ice. They were fantastic on Dec.31 and will have to be at their best again tonight if the Wild have any chance of slowing down the plethora of talent that lines the Lightning’s roster.
Tonight’s matchup can be found on TNT and KFan 100.3FM beginning at 8:30 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.