There are rarely soft spots in the schedule in an entire 82 game season — it just feels so good to have that back. Parity reigns in the NHL, but a matchup against the Arizona Coyotes provides as close to a "gimme" game as there can be.
Having just won their first game of the season against the Seattle Kraken on Saturday, the Minnesota Wild will head to the desert to take on a last-place squad that wasn't built to be a winner and is living up to that expectation. How the Coyotes are floundering is astounding and numerous. They rank in the bottom three in the league in the following categories; goals for (19), goals against (48), powerplay percentage (10.7%), penalty kill percentage (65.8%), and shots per game (25.3).
It's fun just finding out the depths of the team's terribleness. Shayne Gostisbehere, off the scrap heap from the Philadelphia Flyers, leads this team in points with 9.
As for the Wild, they are coming off another comeback win against the New York Islanders — built off of arguably their best single period of performance where they scored four goals — the Wild will let Kaapo Kähkönen patrol the crease, in just his third start of the season. The former AHL Goaltender of the Year has struggled so far this season, posting an .860 Sv%/3.63 GAA and a -2.65 GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average). It's been a dismal start for a goalie who should be pushing Cam Talbot for starts, but this is a softball start, just the thing he needs to get it going.
Jordan Greenway will be joining the roster after missing some games with a lower-body injury, as reported by Sarah McLellan.
Greenway's has primed up some line-shuffling, as he was skating with Nick Bjugstad and Rem Pitlick in practice, while Brandon Duhaime was with Nico Sturm and Ryan Hartman. This likely means more of Victor Rask up in the press box.
Tonight's game is as easy as it comes, so prepare for some sirens and doom-and-gloom if the Wild don't manage to put down a team that is has a combined .875 Sv%. Seriously, how bad can a team be?
Puck drops at 9:00. Let's do this.
Can the Wild take the lead in the first period?
Being the comeback kings is all well and good, but the Wild has one of the league's better records, with the depth to justify that record. So it's time they showed they are the cream of the crop by putting one of the league's bottom feeders in a chokehold starting at puck drop.
The Coyotes have five first-period goals to their name all season, so it's a prime opportunity to get a lead early.
Can Kähkönen build off his last start?
As previously stated, this hasn't been the start Kähkönen was looking for this season. While he only let in two goals against the Islanders, he also faced a paltry 21 shots. However, a win is a win.
He isn't likely to be very busy tonight either, so it'll be vital that he stays warm while watching the play on the other end of the ice. The Coyotes are bad, but they have some good offensive players in Gostisbehere, Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel.