The Minnesota Wild are starting their first road trip of the season with a bang. Instead of just a lay-up game against someone that could maybe take it a little bit easy, they are headed into the two-way dungeon known as TD Garden and facing the always-good Boston Bruins.
Wild vs. Kings
When: 12:00 p.m. CT
Where: TD Garden
TV: BSN, BSWI, Sportsnet
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM
It is not that games against the Bruins are always difficult, but they’re always memorable for what they produce in this clash between two clubs that value their defensive forwards like none others.
Last year’s visit to Boston was also memorable for another reason. It was Matt Boldy’s NHL debut, in the city where he played his college hockey, and he ended up scoring the game-winner in some movie-like dramatics. And even after, when the Bruins came to St. Paul, it was the Wild that got the better of them once again, so it’s not a matchup where we’re shaking in our boots and terrified of the opponents, but we just know it will be a close game between two very good teams.
One might have started their season better than the other — Boston is currently sitting at the top of the Atlantic division with a 4-1-0 record — but on paper we know that they’re an even match.
Projected Wild lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov — Ryan Hartman — Mats Zuccarello
Tyson Jost — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
Matt Boldy — Marco Rossi — Frederick Gaudreau
Brandon Duhaime — Sam Steel — Connor Dewar
Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill — Calen Addison
With the second game of this road trip not happening until Tuesday, we can suspect that this will be another chance for Marc-Andre Fleury to get back on his feet after a very rough start to the season.
Jordan Greenway had to leave Thursday’s game early with an injury and head coach Dean Evason confirmed earlier that he will not be playing this afternoon, so we suspect that Tyson Jost will be reclaiming his spot on that second line. We are praying for Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy to remain together, despite that line being unable to produce any goals against the Vancouver Canucks in its season debut. And while Mason Shaw is back with the Wild, it will probably be Connor Dewar taking that fourth-line spot next to Brandon Duhaime and Sam Steel.
On the blue line, there is possibly going to be one change. After playing his 1,000th NHL game on Thursday, we still think Alex Goligoski will be making way for the returning Jon Merrill and he will make his season debut after recovering from offseason surgery.
Projected Bruins lineup:
Taylor Hall — David Krecji — David Pastrnak
Pavel Zacha — Patrice Bergeron — Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic — Charlie Coyle — Craig Smith
Nick Foligno — Tomas Nosek — A.J. Greer
Hampus Lindholm — Matt Grzelcyk
Derek Forbort — Connor Clifton
Mike Reilly — Anton Stralman
Jeremy Swayman is most likely going to be starting in the home crease.
Can you tell David Pastrnak is a free agent this summer and wants a big contract? The Czech winger has started his season with three goals and eight points in the first five games, dragging this Bruins forward lineup to winning a whole lot of games so far. No matter how mediocre the rest of the lineup looks, we know it will be dangerous just because of how the Bruins want to play the game. Bergeron can play with anybody, and we know how sometimes Charlie Coyle can just score goals at random times.
We’re trying not to take them lightly, but also, that blue line just looks bad. Outside of the top pairing, that is some slow-moving defensemen that might pass as league average, but I guess it’s working so far.
Puck drop is at 12:00 p.m., so get some lunch and enjoy some defensive hockey.
Can Boldy and/or Rossi get on the board?
They appeared to be a little lost together against the Canucks, but now with some time to feel it out and study some tape, they can secure some points today in Boston. Boldy will have that Massachusetts power back and Rossi might be more comfortable not in St. Paul.
Will the power play continue to produce?
The Wild have scored seven goals on the power play, which is tied for first among all teams in the NHL, despite playing fewer games than every other team around them in the ranking. Also, just as the cherry on top, they have the fifth-most shots on goal and seventh-most shot attempts — again, despite playing fewer games. Is this sustainable? I guess we’ll find out eventually.
We want at least one good defensive performance, can we get that?
The main story of the Wild’s season so far has been them playing defense like they are playing NHL 23. They simply do not care to mark attackers well, control gaps, do all that little extra stuff to prevent scoring chances. This is not Minnesota Wild hockey, so maybe they can see what the Bruins end up doing and just copy them. We just want to see something not terrible, and maybe allow less than 30 shots on goal?
See you soon!