Wrapping up the first road trip of the season tonight and heading back into the good ol’ USA, we have the Minnesota Wild facing off against the Detroit Red Wings at the Little Caesars Arena.
Wild at Red Wings
When: 6:00 p.m. EDT
Where: Little Caesars Arena
TV: BSN, BSDET
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM
Coming off a string of good luck and better games, the Wild seem poised for a nice win against the Red Wings, who have lost their last two games. That’s a tentative positioning, because this is the Minnesota Wild hockey team and anything can happen, good or bad.
All the line shuffling seems to have settled into something good with players clicking and good plays happening in both the games against the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. Even the defense seemed tighter in Thursday’s game, which was a concern for all of us knowing the offensive power Ottawa brings to every game. Marc-Andre Fleury has settled into an exceptional rhythm goaltending after some bad games at the start of the season, putting on some truly show stopping performances recently. His confidence really seems to be giving the whole team the boost it needs to win.
On paper, the Red Wings seems like it should be dominating on the ice. Captain Dylan Larkin has eight points in seven games, Dominik Kubalik has ten points in seven games, Moritz Seider won the 2022 Calder Trophy for some outstanding defense, and they’ve got 6-foot-8 Elmer Söderblom and 6-foot-6 Michael Rasmussen on a line together who should be making some, um, big moves. In real life, however, they’re all over the board, both winning and losing games by multiple goals.
The Wild’s special teams are still among the best in the league, sitting third behind the Colorado Avalanche (last year’s Stanley Cup Champions) and the Edmonton Oilers (a team that has both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid on a power play unit). Kirill Kaprizov is still on a tear, hitting 50 career power play points Thursday night, and his linemate Mats Zuccarello is producing well practically every game. Not bad for a team that’s been self-correcting after a worrying start.
Projected Wild lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Foligno — Marco Rossi — Matthew Boldy
Brandon Duhaime — Joel Eriksson Ek — Ryan Hartman
Mason Shaw — Sam Steel — Connor Dewar
Jake Middleton — Jason Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Calen Addison
Jon Merrill — Matt Dumba
This is the first game of a back-to-back, with the Wild heading to face the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow to finish their road trip — so it will all depend on what goaltender Evason wants to go with for which game. Maybe he wants to give Marc-Andre Fleury an early rest and hand the reins over to Filip Gustavsson tonight.
As far as we know, the lines look about the same as last game with Gaudreau centering that top line powerhouse duo. Hopefully, the empty netter last game will open his scoring and we’ll get some more points out of him going forward. It shouldn’t be too tall of an ask with Zuccarello and Kaprizov playing like they’ve been playing. No word on if Tyson Jost is still scratched, or where he’ll end up in the lineup if he’s coming back.
The defense pairings look the same as well, and it seems to be working better than anything else this season. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the blue line so the Wild doesn’t have to rely on good goaltending to win games, but we’re heading in the right direction.
Projected Red Wings lineup:
Dominik Kubalik — Dylan Larkin — David Perron
Filip Zadina— Andrew Copp — Lucas Raymond
Elmer Söderblom — Joe Veleno — Adam Erne
Jordan Oesterle — Pius Suter — Matt Luff
Ben Chiarot — Moritz Seider
Olli Määttä — Filip Hronek
Robert Hägg — Gustav Lindström
Alex Nedeljkovic is the Red Wings’ projected starter.
Tyler Bertuzzi is still out on injured reserve and won’t be playing in the game tonight. That has obviously been a big loss for the Red Wings, as both a good veteran player and a stable left wing, but it’s good news for the Wild’s chances tonight. Rasmussen is also not projected to play.
That top line of Kubalik, Larkin, and Perron have a combined 23 points this season. Kubalik in particular seems to be on a hot streak, and if the Wild’s defense chooses to play like the beginning of the season, that could be a lot of trouble.
Puck drops at 6:00 p.m., just in time to have dinner and a show.
Will the special teams continue their streak?
A good power play is so important and like we said earlier, the Wild currently has one of the best. Will they be able to continue capitalizing on their special teams and generate chances to score? The Red Wings have a pretty solid penalty kill unit, so this could be a challenge in tonight’s game.
Is Tyson Jost going to show up tonight?
It’s never fun being a healthy scratch, and even less fun when your team wins when you’re scratched, but will this be enough of a kick in the pants for Jost? He’s been a little underwhelming this season so far and it’s disappointing from a player as fun as he can be. If he isn’t scratched again, we’d love to see him be at least a little memorable against the Red Wings and get some of his confidence back.
Marc-Andre Fleury has had some phenomenal few games but will that hold as the season goes on? Will Filip Gustavsson be able to step up when the time comes and handle the pressure, and is the defense relying too much on their goalies to cover up basic mistakes? We’d love to keep winning games and we’re thankful for the skills shown but the blue line showing up more to help will give us a little more security in the team as a whole.
Stay Wild, friends.