In a barnburner on Tuesday, a game which saw nine combined goals, the Minnesota Wild were able to seal a huge 5-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite nearly allowing a Columbus comeback in the third period, the performance was surely refreshing to see after the complete debacle in primetime on Sunday evening against conference rival St. Louis Blues.
Now, Minnesota turns its attention to the bottom-feeders in the NHL — the Detroit Red Wings — as the two clubs meet in the Motor City on Thursday night. With the Wild’s lack of moves at the trade deadline, coupled with their 48.6 percent chance of making the postseason, according to Money Puck, the time to begin a winning streak is now. And there’s probably no easier team to beat than the Red Wings.
These two teams met in St. Paul on January 22, and the result was favorable for the home team as the Wild clinched a 4-2 victory over their Eastern Conference foes. The Red Wings currently sit in last place in the NHL with only 34 points and a record of 15-46-4. The next highest point total in the league comes from the Ottawa Senators, who have only been able to muster 54 points. But still, that’s a 20-point difference. Needless to say, it’s been a rough rebuild for a once great franchise.
For Minnesota, the season has been far from sunshine and daisies, and changes are more than likely coming in the offseason, but this game could serve as one that begins a stream of momentum.
It all depends on what team shows up. Can the Wild take care of business and defeat the team they are supposed to beat? Or will they come out on road ice, where they have struggled for the most part, and miss a golden opportunity for two points? This year’s Wild has given us examples of both, as they score just over three goals per game, but turn right around and give up three goals per night.
Granted, the defense has taken their lumps this season, but that side of the puck has to be better as a whole throughout the rest of the season — especially a player like Matt Dumba, who has struggled mightily this season.
At this time, it’s unclear who will start in net. But goalies Alex Stalock and Devan Dubnyk, whoever earns the start, will need to play a sound game in net. It’s kind of hard to win when four and five goals are given up in a game. Against a team, on paper, that the Wild should have their way with, a loss would be unacceptable.
Will the defense continue to be porous?
The Wild have sacrificed four goals in two consecutive games. Will they continue that trend in Detroit?
Will Zach Parise find the back of the net?
It’s been six games since Parise has scored a goal for the Wild. Since the trade deadline has passed, will he be able to settle down and put one on the scoresheet?
Can the Wild take care of business against a team they should easily handle?
The best teams rise to the occasion and do not play down to the level of their opponent. Can the Wild clobber the Red Wings like any competent NHL team would?