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Wild vs. Coyotes: Game preview, tale of the tape, projected lineups

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The Wild try to end a dismal January on a high note at home against the Arizona Coyotes.

Shane Doan has proven that you can have an unsustainable shooting percentage even when you're 80.
Shane Doan has proven that you can have an unsustainable shooting percentage even when you're 80.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As far as months go, January has been pretty bad for the Wild. They haven't been winning, they haven't played well, and this is a team that's looking pretty desperate for answers. Tonight they look to make their limping into the All-Star break just a little less noticeable with a victory against the Arizona Coyotes.

This time last year, the Coyotes were out of the playoff race and in the process of trading off guys like Devan Dubnyk, Zbynyk Michalek, Antoine Vermette, and Keith Yandle. No doubt the players still tried hard, but management was flat-out tanking for a McEichel committed to their rebuild, leaving Arizona little chance to win on a given night.

That's not quite the case this year. Just like the Wild, the Coyotes find themselves fighting for their playoff lives tonight. The Coyotes are tied with Vancouver for the final Pacific Division playoff berth, with Anaheim just two points behind them in the standings. They're going to need to get this road victory in order to stay in the picture.

And in fact, they'd probably be out of the race altogether had they not lost Mike Smith on December 8th. That's right, the Coyotes are a better team with their big-money goaltender off the roster. Smith, once one of the more solid goalies in the league, fell off the map last season when he posted a .904 Sv%. Sadly, the comeback year hasn't been in the cards for him, either, as his .901 Sv% is a step back from that even. It's a good thing the Coyotes only have 3 more years at $5.67M, right?!

Taking Smith's place is a 23-year-old by the name of Louis Domingue. Domingue's a bit of a curiosity, as he was a 5th-round pick who's been decent, but never stellar in the AHL. As a result, you've got to raise your eyebrows a bit at Domingue's .927 Sv% in the NHL so far. Is he a fluke or is there something real there? Remember, the Coyotes have the benefit of goalie coach Sean Burke, who's considered to be one of the best at his job (you may know him as the guy who helped fix Dubnyk). Maybe Domingue's benefitting from his presence.

Up front, there's a sizable youth movement in Arizona. Max Domi is second among rookies in scoring this year with 32 points. He's Tie Domi's son, but he clearly must've inherited his wheels, hands, and shot from his mother's side. Anthony Duclair also is impressing, scoring 12 goals and 24 points on the year. Still, Duclair would do well to shoot hte puck more frequently, as his 3.57 5v5 Shots/60 ranks 226th of 229.

The playoff chase is fun for now, and they do have a star-caliber player in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but the Coyotes' best days lie ahead of them. Along with Domi and Duclair, they have one of the best prospects in the game in Dylan Strome playing Junior, along with Brendan Perlini and Nick Merkley. Those guys should help the Coyotes sooner or later, but since they aren't there now, it's more than likely that Arizona will be a lottery team.

The Wild should be turning back to Devan Dubnyk tonight, who will get his final appearance in before representing Minnesota in the All-Star game. As for the rest of the team? Same old, same old. The Wild have got to find a way to score some points, but it's hard to do when you're 26th in the league in shots. Nothing really new here, except the power play has 2 goals in 2 games. Whoo-hoo, I guess?

Puck drops at 7:30 Central tonight, so make sure to stop by for updates later today, as well as our Game thread! In the meantime, let's check out tonight's projected lineups and the Tale of the Tape.

Projected Lineups

Minnesota Wild

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Zach Parise

Mikael Granlund

Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter

Mikko Koivu

Charlie Coyle

Thomas Vanek

Jarret Stoll

Jason Zucker

Chris Porter

Erik Haula

Jordan Schroeder

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Ryan Suter

Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin

Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella

Nate Prosser

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Arizona Coyotes

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Tobias Funke Rieder

Antoine Vermette

Mikkel Boedker

Max Domi

Martin Hanzal

Viktor Tikhonov

Jordan Martinook

Brad Richardson

Shane Doan

Kyle Chipchura

Boyd Gordon

Anthony Duclair

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Connor Murphy

Jarred Tinordi

Zbynek Michalek

Kevin Connauton

Michael Stone

Goalies

Louis Domingue

Anders Lindback