The Minnesota Wild find themselves in third place in the Central Division, with a five-point buffer ahead of the Colorado Avalanche and a seven-point gap ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars (tied). The Wild start a tough four-game road trip tonight against the Washington Capitals, but there will be no excuses; they have to pick up the pace if they want a shot at the top of the Central.
Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.
The team has only finished at the top of their division once in their history, in 2007-08 when they were part of the Northwest Division, but they have a realistic shot at it this season if they can continue improving.
The Capitals are in fourth place in a very tough Metropolitan Division but have gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, including an offensive explosion against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec.31 when they put up a remarkable nine goals. They will be hoping for the second win in as many nights after squeaking out an overtime win against the New York Islanders on Monday night.
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 – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison
Filip Gustavsson – Marc-Andre Fleury
Capitals Projected Lineup
Alex Ovechkin – Dylan Strome – Conor Sheary
Anthony Mantha – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson – Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin – Martin Fehervary
Charlie Lindgren – Darcy Kuemper
3 Keys to the Game
Kaprizov Against his Idol
Kaprizov is a massive Alex Ovechkin fan and, with 30 goals on the season and 810 in his career, who can blame him? He even wore an Ovechkin jersey at the shootout competition during the 2022 All-Star Skills Competition. The pair have only faced each other once so far, but Kaprizov was held scoreless despite usually upping his game against his countrymen.
Related: Wild By the Numbers: Midseason Report
Latest News & Highlights
Perhaps the nerves got the best of him facing his childhood hero, but hopefully, he can get passed that tonight and really show what he is made of. He is one goal away from 100 in his career, and there would be no better time to collect that milestone than against an idol.
Boldy Finds Some Swagger
With 68 points in 89 NHL games, Matt Boldy has been an impact player since his first game last season. He is in the middle of a rough season, producing less than expected, and he is still projected to break 20 goals and 55 points. His shiny new seven-year, $49 million contract is going to be a steal when he settles into his NHL career and the deal should help with that. With a little less on his mind, Boldy should find a little more swagger, and perhaps the show of confidence from the organization will help put a few pucks in the net.
Greenway Decides His Own Fate
The Wild will face cap problems for the next two seasons, and with little money to go around, even less can be spent on players who aren’t carrying their weight. Jordan Greenway is a monster at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds and is a big piece of the Wild’s shutdown line, but with six points in 25 games, he just isn’t providing any offense. He was injured to start the season and hasn’t been able to find his game since returning. As we close in on the trade deadline, it seems likely that Greenway will be on the block unless he can put up more numbers.
Tonight’s matchup can be found on Bally Sports North and KFan 100.3FM beginning at 6:00 CT.
*Player statistics collected from Naturalstattrick.com, Wild lines from @sarah_mclellan on Twitter, and Capitals lines from their last game on Jan. 17.