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Preview: Wild head to Vancouver to take on Canucks

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Dean Evason goes for his second try at this first win

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild and Canucks are two teams in very different places. The Wild are outside of a playoff spot, have traded away (for now) one major player and fired their head coach. The Canucks are in the top three of their division and are acquiring reinforcements for their playoff push. While these two teams head in different directions in the standings, they will meet in Vancouver Wednesday night.

This will be the third time these teams have met on the season, but this will be the first in Vancouver. In January, the Canucks emerged victorious in the first matchup, 4-1. Marcus Foligno was the lone goal scorer for the Wild, and Devan Dubnyk allowed three goals on 29 shots (with the fourth goal coming on an empty net). Earlier this month, the Wild won the rematch 4-2 with goals from Brad Hunt, Ryan Hartman, Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise. Alex Stalock was in goal this time, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Both teams are .500 since that matchup — the Wild are 2-2-1 and the Canucks are 2-2.

On the season overall, the Canucks are enjoying a successful year. They are currently 32-22-5, good for third in the Pacific Division and just one point behind both Vegas and Edmonton for first. They are getting excellent production from Elias Pettersson (24 goals, 34 assists) and offseason acquisition J.T. Miller (22 goals, 35 assists). They had also been enjoying a strong year from Burnsville native Brock Boeser, but he suffered an injury last week that is likely to be season-ending against the Calgary Flames. To replace that lost production, the Canucks went out and acquired forward Tyler Toffoli from the Kings on Tuesday. Toffoli is having a decently productive season as well (18 goals, 16 assists).

For the Wild, this will be try No. 2 for interim head coach Dean Evason at getting his first win. He did a rather unremarkable job rallying the troops Saturday against San Jose. He will need to be better Wednesday if he hopes to see a different result.

Burning Questions

1. Will the Wild show any life?

After the Jason Zucker trade, GM Bill Guerin said if there is quit, there will be more trades. The Wild responded by playing like a team sufficiently motivated and won their next game 4-0 against Vegas. But they played poorly the following game, blowing a late lead and losing in a shootout to the Rangers. Rather than a trade, Guerin responded by firing Bruce Boudreau. The team looked rather dead in Dean Evason’s first game Saturday. Was the trade of Zucker and subsequent firing of the Boudreau enough to kill off what life the Wild had left in them? Or will the team play like one that still has something to prove?

2. Can the Wild match the Canucks’ energy?

For everything the Wild are going through right now, the Canucks are experiencing the opposite. They are in a playoff spot currently and their GM is bolstering the lineup, having just acquired productive forward Tyler Toffoli from the Kings. The Canucks should be feeling very good about themselves right now. Do they ride that energy to an easy win over the Wild?

3. Will the Wild get production from depth players?

The last time these two teams met, the Wild got a goal and an assist from Brad Hunt and a goal from Ryan Hartman. These two goals were joined by a goal each from more notable scorers Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise. Two goals from depth players and two goals from regular productive players was enough to get the Wild a 4-2 victory. Can the Wild spread around the scoring again en-route to another victory?

This will be a late one, folks. Grab a coffee or your preferred caffeinated beverage, and get ready to see the Wild take on the Canucks.