Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Marcus Foligno.
Elite offense producers.
After a couple of rough games in Las Vegas, the Minnesota Wild thumped the Arizona Coyotes in their first matchup of the season last night. They’ve got a chance to repeat that success as they face off against the Coyotes again tonight in Arizona.
The win on Friday night saw a couple of multi-point efforts, with Jordan Greenway and the Lizard King himself — Mats Zuccarello — tally a goal and an assist each. Kirill Kaprizov had two helpers, and Marcus Foligno continued his tear by notching a couple of assists, bringing his total up to five goals and ten points in the last seven games.
Kaapo Kähkönen continued his strong start to his NHL career, stopping 24 out of 25 shots. With this being a back-to-back, expect to see Cam Talbot in net tonight. He’s historically been fantastic against the Coyotes, sporting a whopping .928 Sv% over 17 career starts against them.
We were looking for in-game a return to form for Zach Parise in his first game back after being a healthy scratch for only the second time in his career and the first time since joining the Wild.
He didn’t set the world on fire but managed a strong possession game (61% 5v5 CF). It was a nice starting point, and he needs to build on it tonight against a struggling opponent.
The lines look to be the same as they were last night.
Early night in the desert, puck drops at 6:00 p.m.
If Parise’s struggles continue, does he move in the lineup?
There is no doubt Dean Evason has been unsatisfied with Parise’s play of late. If his struggles continue — three goals and nine points in 20 games — expect to see Evason do about the only thing he can do to get Parise going; move him around in the lineup.
Parise lined up with Kevin Fiala and Nick Bjugstad on Friday night. Fiala looked at times like he was feeding Parise in the hopes of getting him going. If he can’t compete with them, there’s a good chance that Parise might end up further down the lineup. If Evason really wants to get weird, he could place him with Kaprizov to put him in the best position to succeed.
Another bad powerplay night?
The Wild had four opportunities on the powerplay in the last game, scoring on none.
But it still looked good. Sometimes things don't break your way in a game. Or for a whole season, in the powerplay unit’s case. Eight shots is an okay output, but it’s indicative of what’s been plaguing their powerplay strategy for much of the season: not enough shots.
This far into the season, it’s an old hack to ask if the Wild powerplay can score. Can they get more than two shots on net per opportunity?
Can the Wild improve at the faceoff dot?
They went 29-69 or 42% against the Coyotes in the first game. I sometimes think faceoffs can be a tad overrated, but when Joel Eriksson Ek is the only regular center with his head above water at 52%, that’s a lot of possessions handed over.