The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche face one another yet again and a feeling of hopelessness has shrouded all of Minnesota in this gloomy cloud shaped like Nathan MacKinnon.
It’s not just that the Avalanche dominated their way to a 5-1 win on Thursday and had more than double the amount of shots on goal, it was just this sense that nothing would go the Wild’s way. And now that the two clubs are heading to the ice again, it’s hard to justify any positive feeling.
It’s tough to completely bounce back after such a loss, but Minnesota has done it before. Just earlier this season, another 5-1 loss to the Avalanche resulted in a 4-3 OT win the very next day. A 4-0 shutout loss to the Los Angeles Kings was followed by a six-game win streak where the Wild appeared unbeatable. It’s a familiar feeling of resurrection that this team has faced, but against such a strong opponent it’s difficult to overcome unless everything goes their way.
The Wild will be without their premier offensive defenseman in Matt Dumba, as he took a horrible spill during the last match and had to be helped off the ice. And while head coach Dean Evason officially listed Dumba as doubtful for the game this afternoon, he did ride positivity and made sure everyone was aware that the injury was better than it looked.
An educated guess would be that Ian Cole takes his spot next to Jonas Brodin, as Carson Soucy and Brad Hunt formulate the bottom pair. Cole has been a welcome addition after being acquired for Greg Pateryn in a rare early-season trade, as he’s stabilized the defensive depth.
The forward lines will most likely remain in tact, as there was no glaring errors coming from the group of 12, just an inability to get shots off.
As for the netminders, Kaapo Kahkonen will be in between the pipes for the Wild, as he looks to get his 10th consecutive win and break some rookie records on the way. It is unconfirmed but expected that Philipp Grubauer will take his place yet again against Minnesota.
Will they get outshot again?
While it isn’t a massive streak—just the last two games have the Wild been able to get less shots on goal than their opponent—it was a horrendous display against the Avalanche last time around. After 60 minutes, the shot counter read 50-22 and there was a sense of hopelessness as Colorado just kept piling them on.
Maybe things will change this time around, but in their five matches against them they were able to get the better shot numbers just once—in the 4-3 OT win that ended 33-25 in favor of Minnesota.
Can Zuccarello continue his point streak?
Mats Zuccarello has earned at least one point through the last five games while building upon the stable chemistry between him and Kirill Kaprizov on a line with Victor Rask. The trio has essentially been Dean Evason’s go-to offensive power and rightly so, as the Wild have leaned heavily upon them to get some goals on the board.
Can they continue doing that though? We shall see.
Will Mikko Rantanen get the better of Minnesota again?
It took a few games—he earned just one point in the three previous games—but Mikko Rantanen was able to explode again against the Minnesota Wild. In the first match between these two clubs he earned two points, and again on Thursday, he took advantage and earned himself a total of four points.
The offensive winger is able to certainly get the better of some opponents and he might do it again this afternoon.
Puck drop is at 2:00 p.m.