Game 24: Minnesota Wild vs Arizona Coyotes
Time & Location: 7:00 PM | Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul, Minnesota
How To Watch: Fox Sports North | Fox Sports GO App | Fox Sports Arizona Plus
How To Listen: FM 100.3 KFAN (Twin Cities) | Wild Radio Network | AM 620 ESPN (Phoenix)
The Minnesota Wild continue their home schedule of the 2018-19 campaign Tuesday night when the Arizona Coyotes come to town. The Wild were successful last week in two games, but look to finish off the month of November strong.
Desert Dogs in Doldrums
The last time the Wild saw the Coyotes, Arizona had scored just four times over four games. In fact, when Brendan Perlini tallied the lone Coyote goal in the first period, it was the first even-strength goal of season. Then Darcy Kuemper misplayed a Mikael Granludn shot and the Wild never looked back.
Shortly after the Wild beat them, Arizona rattled off a streak of five wins. They weren’t against just bottom-dwelling teams either. With wins against Columbus, Tampa Bay, and Ottawa, the goaltenders led the way by surrendering one goal in each of the games during that stretch. Yes, that was both Kuemper and Antti Raanta.
But the Coyotes have hit a rut. After rattling off five wins in a row, they’ve dropped eight of the last 10 games. Most recently, they were defeated in Calgary by a score of 6-1 and gave up three short-handed goals. While Kuemper and Raanta have split time in the crease, neither have been really good. Raanta has a .879 save percentage and a 5.08 goals against average in the month of November. As for Kuemper, he posted a .958 save percentage in October only to have the bottom drop out for a .898 save percentage in November. Being that Raanta was the one most recently shelled, it’s probably safe to expect Kuemper back in between the pipes.
The power play ranks near the bottom, but the PK ranks number one in the league. That’s in part to the sheer absurd amount of short-handed goals they’ve been able to score just a couple games past the quarter mark of the season. Arizona leads the league with ten - 10! - short-handed goals. Michael Grabner leads the team in goals with the disadvantage. He’s got just five goals and five assists this season, but he holds his own while playing more defensively at 31 years old.
The Wild won’t have to worry about Brendan Perlini Tuesday. He and Dylan Strome were traded Sunday night to the Chicago Blackhawks in a deal that had Nick Schmaltz going back to The Copper State. Perlini has scored four goals against the Wild in his career, the most against any team he played against.
Trying to string together a long winning streak
The Wild are currently enjoying a two game win stretch. However, since capping off a five-game win streak in mid-October, the Wild have yet to string together more than three wins. They’ll have to do just that starting with Arizona. The head out to Columbus and Toronto after the Coyotes, so it's important to finish this little home stand strong.
Matt Dumba scored his ninth and tenth goals against Ottawa least Wednesday, and still sits atop the leader board for most goals by defensemen. It hasn't come without scrutiny. While Boudreau loved his work on offense, the head coach is trying to get him to re-focus on the defensive side of things. That prompted a break-up of the Suter/Dumba pair for Friday's matinee game, which resulted in Dumba assisting on Eric Staal's game-winning goal.
Dumba has zero goals, and four assists all-time again the Coyotes. You can bet that he's licking his chops after staring at those save percentages for either goalie.
The same goes for Nino Niederreiter. After getting off the schneid with a goal and an assist to spark the comeback against the Jets, the best thing to prove the money has been lifted off his back will be to score in back-to-back games. Nino has scored four goals with seven assists for 11 points in 17 games all-time against the Coyotes. He will need to continue to show that crash-the-net mentality that he had against the Jets to continue on the right path, and hopefully have the stint on the fourth line be just a short memory.
Devan Dubnyk is finally feeling '100 percent' after missing Friday's game with an illness. However, his save percentage in November took a dive after a strong October. With Alex Stalock being the hotter hand right now, and Dubnyk coming off the illness, maybe Boudreau goes back to Stalock to keep Dubnyk fresh for the road trip.
This could be a trap game for the Wild because of the emotional victory Friday. It shouldn't be as the Wild had two practices since then to get over the win and focus in on Arizona. But expdct that to be an excuse if the Wild let a game in which they should win slip by.
Puck drop is just after 7:00 PM, the Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior.