It has only been three days since the Minnesota Wild shut out the Chicago Blackhawks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee for the “Home Away from Home” game, yet the two teams will meet again for tonight’s contest. The Blackhawks should be well-rested and ready to go after having a bit of a break in their schedule, allowing them to have the last three days off. In the meantime, the Wild stopped in Missouri to take on the St. Louis Blues before finally heading back to St. Paul. That being said, some of the Wild’s roster tonight has also had a few days off as they did not accompany the team on the preseason road trip.
The Wild are down to their final two preseason games after an almost complete Blues team handed an almost veteran-less Wild team their first defeat, dropping their record to 4-1-0. Mason Shaw and Tyson Jost had the Wild’s two goals on Tuesday, while Marco Rossi continued his dominance, grabbing assists on both. Filip Gustavsson manned the net for the entire game and had a decent performance considering the roster imbalance, but his 23 saves were not enough to come away with the win.
Minnesota Wild Projected Roster
With only one more round of cuts to make before the Wild’s regular season roster is complete, Shaw, Nic Petan, and Steven Fogarty are the three remaining players fighting for the 13th forward position and they will find themselves on a line together tonight. As we will see a complete lineup for the last preseason game against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 8, being noticeable in this one could be the deciding factor on who goes and who stays.
Kaprizov – Rossi – Zuccarello
Gaudreau – Steel – Boldy
Jost – Dewar – Duhaime
Shaw – Petan – Fogarty
Goligoski – Spurgeon
Brodin – Dumba
Sustr – Addison
Gustavsson – Fleury
While there has been some discontent from Wild fans about Rossi being on the fourth line to start the season, an opportunity to see him as a first-line center should help to quell the fears about him not being given the best opportunities. Getting the chance to play such an elevated role shows just how highly the coaching staff regards him. The young star should be a sight to behold between a pairing as dynamic as Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, and the real competition may come down to who of the three is the better playmaker.
On the backend, the long-time pairing of Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba has been reunited as Alex Goligoski slides up to the first pairing beside Jared Spurgeon. It will be interesting to see where Brodin ends up on opening night as this completes the trial of having him paired with Spurgeon. Gustavsson gets the nod for the second full game in a row as Fleury will be in net for the final game this weekend.
Chicago Blackhawks Projected Lineup
The Blackhawks have taken the last three days to completely rearrange their lines with the hopes of finding a spark of chemistry between some of their players. Without a single line intact from the shutout loss they faced just a few days ago, they could have a completely different feel to their game. Worth noting is that Andreas Athanasiou had been practicing with the top line and looks like he will take Patrick Kane’s spot for tonight.
T. Johnson – Toews – Athanasiou
Kurashev – Domi – Raddysh
Blackwell – R. Johnson – Robinson
Dach – Lafferty – Entwistle
J. Johnson – S. Jones
Vlasic – Roos
Stillman – Regula
Stalock – Weeks
Key Players to Watch
Minnesota Wild – Marco Rossi
With five assists and one goal in his four preseason games, there is no questioning that Rossi came into training camp determined to be on the NHL roster for the 2022-23 season. He knew he had to impress to make the team and he has definitely completed that goal. Arguably the best player throughout the entire preseason, he has consistently managed to produce on a line with Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime, while also factoring in on the powerplay and penalty kill.
While there really isn’t any doubt that Rossi will make the roster at this point, it currently looks like he is slated to start on the fourth line with the aforementioned pairing of Dewar and Duhaime on his wings. Sam Steel is now the favorite to center the third line with Freddy Gaudreau and Matt Boldy, but with Rossi getting his first chance higher in the lineup tonight, if he can continue to live up to his elite potential, it is only a matter of time before he is moved there permanently.
Chicago Blackhawks – Jonathan Toews
Entering his 15th year in the NHL, all of them with the Blackhawks, the long-time captain Jonathan Toews has been a thorn in the side of the Wild. Even after having the worst season of his career in 2021-22, the veteran center brings 1,000 games of experience, in which he has collected 852 points and a ridiculous 57 percent career faceoff win percentage to a team desperately in need of some offense if they hope to have any success in the 2022-23 season.
With the Blackhawks firmly in a rebuild, it remains to be seen if Toews will finish the season with the same team he starts with, as trade rumors have been abundant and aggressive. His presence in the lineup tonight means he will slot into his usual role as the first-line center, pushing Max Domi down to the second line.
Unlike the previous game, fans can watch this one on Bally Sports North as well as listen on K-Fan 100.3 FM tonight at 7:00 PM CT. There will also be a special “Wild Season Preview” aired on Ball Sports North directly after the conclusion of the game.
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.