There may be some eye-rolling if we billed today's matinee as a matchup of two of the NHL's best offenses, but that is precisely what it is.
The Minnesota Wild have put together a lovely stretch of games of late, going 6-3-1 in their last ten games. Powered by some dominant team play and some exceptional performances from Kirill Kaprizov and Ryan Hartman, the Wild have been able to get their offense clicking. Kaprizov has 11(!) points in his last five games, including a four-point performance in the 7-1 shellacking of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. Hartman has four goals in that same span, all at even strength.
No word as of yet, but expect to see Cam Talbot between the pipes in his 17th start of the season. Like the team, he has had a bounceback stretch, with a .923 Sv%/2.64 GAA in his last five games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, on the other end of the ice, come into the Xcel with a 7-2-1 record in their last ten games, slowly rising towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings. That record hasn't come without some obstacles, as Nikita Kucherov is still recovering from surgery, and Brayden Point is week-to-week after leaving last week's game against the New Jersey Devils.
Steven Stamkos, the Bolty Boy's other, other star, has three goals and seven points in the last five games, so he'll be one to watch.
The Wild have the league's second-best home offense, averaging 4.63 goals per game in the Xcel Energy Center. The Lighting come in with the second-best road offense, averaging 3.43 goals a game. It may not be billed as two offensively skilled teams facing off, but it definitely is.
Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m., so get those leftovers heated up.
Another multi-point game for Kaprizov?
Kirill has found a newfound penchant for scoring in bunches. In the last five games, he has had three multi-point efforts, including the two four-point performances. While you always want to see a full-team effort and the scoring spread a little, you can't complain about seeing a firework go off and fill the net multiple times. Can he put up at least two points against one of the premier teams in the league?
Will they shut down what's left of the Lighting's star forwards?
No Kucherov, no Point, no problem? You've got plenty of star power through the rest of the lineup, but this team is currently running with Alex Barré-Boulet on the first line. This offense is diminished, so the Wild need to make it look that way.