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Preview: The boys are back in town

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After an extended COVID sabbatical, the Wild are back at it against a familiar foe.

Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Boy, life for the Minnesota Wild really came to a screeching halt there for a bit. But it’s nice to see the majority of the team off the COVID-protocol list. Unfortunately it’s not the whole team, as Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt, Victor Rask, Carson Soucy, Cam Talbot and Kyle Rau remain unavailable for the time being.

There are also a couple unfamiliar faces joining the squad: Iowa Wild standout Calen Addison is joining the squad, — but more importantly — Mats Zuccarello is back with team after a lengthy LTIR stint after surgery on his arm.

Here are what the lines looked like at practice yesterday;

Parise-Eriksson Ek-Fiala

Greenway-Johansson-Kaprizov

Foligno-Bjugstad-Hartman

Zuccarello-Johnson-Mayhew

Suter-Addison

Mermis-Dumba

Bartkowski-Belpedio

That’s a first line we can get behind.

With all this good news, maybe nature is healing. Maybe life is returning to normal. Who are the Wild facing in their first game back?

The Los Angeles flippin’ Kings?

I’m so sick of them.

The Kings are coming off a convincing 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, before having a few days off. It ended a five-game losing streak that started with the last time they faced the Wild way back before all the COVID issues began. Through 13 games, the Kings hold the worst record in the West Division, at 4-6-3. This is a bad team and while the Wild will be shorthanded, they should be able to handle them.

Puck drops (finally) at 9:00 pm CT.

Burning Questions

1. Can the Wild shake off the rust?

The Wild haven’t played a game in 14 days. Kevin Fiala hasn’t since Jan. 28. Zuccarello hasn’t played since August. There is going to be an abundance of rust on this roster. Will it result in slow start and maybe a hole the team can’t dig themselves out of?

2. How does Calen Addison fair on the first-pairing?

You’d be hard pressed to find a better partner to begin your NHL career with than Ryan Suter. Unfortunately, it also means you aren’t likely to get soft match-ups. With the many absences on the blueline, can Addison keep his head above water?

3. Can Kaapo Kähkönen bounce-back?

With so much time since the last game, it’s hard to remember that Kähkönen had one of his worst starts in his last game. In a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, way back on Jan. 30th, Kähkönen let in 5 goals on only 33 shots. You may be able to excuse the performance by saying it was the Avalanche, but with Cam Talbot still missing, the Wild have nowhere to hide their young netminder.