The Minnesota Wild suffered a devastating 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers in regulation Monday night. With just five seconds remaining, Panthers forward Noel Acciari redirected a point shot past Alex Stalock to give his team the late lead, giving the Wild their fifth loss in seven games.
Luckily, the Wild have a pretty great opportunity to make up for that soul-crushing defeat Wednesday night when they take on the Detroit Red Wings in their final game before the All-Star break. The Red Wings are far and away the worst team in the NHL, so this should be a winnable game for the Wild. But, of course, you can never be too sure with this group!
Through 50 games, the Red Wings have a record of 12-34-4 for just 28 points this season. Their minus-88 goal differential is the worst in the NHL by a landslide, and they also rank toward the bottom of the league in just about every major team statistic. Their penalty kill (73.3 PK%) ranks dead last, their power play ranks third-to-last (14.4 PP%) and they average fewer goals per game than any team in the NHL (just 2.12).
Aside from forwards Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit severely lacks legitimate star power. Anthony Mantha had a fantastic start to the season, but it’s sounding like he could be out of action for the rest of the year with an upper-body injury. Since being acquired from the St. Louis Blues earlier in the season, Robby Fabbri has proved to be a solid addition for the Red Wings, but he’s certainly no world beater.
All in all, this Red Wings team is impressively bad, and if the Wild don’t absolutely dismantle them on home ice, you might as well start looking forward to next season.
1. Can the Wild stay hot on the power play?
Minnesota has been excellent on the man advantage recently. In their last four games, the Wild have gone 7-for-13 on the power play, which is fantastic. As mentioned previously, Detroit has the worst penalty kill in the NHL, so the Wild shouldn’t have too much of an issue taking advantage of their opportunities on the man advantage.
2. Will Dubnyk rebound after a tough outing in Pittsburgh?
Per Sarah McLellan of the Star Tribune, goalie Devan Dubnyk will be back in net for the Wild against the Red Wings. His last appearance in net came a week ago against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it didn’t go very well! The veteran netminder allowed seven goals on 29 shots, leading to an ugly 7-3 defeat on the road. Dubnyk has had his fair share of struggles this season — this is evidenced by his 3.35 GAA and .892 save percentage. Still, Wednesday night should be a great opportunity to get back on track.
3. Will this be the night Dumba finally scores a goal?
To say Matt Dumba has had a rough season would be an understatement. After publicly expressing his desire to score 30 goals this season, the 25-year-old defenseman is currently riding a 31-game goal drought and has just 14 points through 49 games. He’s found the back of the net just three times this season, and he’s been itching to get one recently. Perhaps tonight’s game will finally mark the end of his drought.