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Preview: Wild start road trip in Los Angeles looking for revenge

Last time out, it wasn’t a great time.

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Los Angeles Kings v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

In the middle of sorting out this game preview for you lovely folks, I just realized that this game starts at 9:30 p.m. CT and my entire day is ruined. I wanted a simple nice evening game involving my favorite hockey team and instead I get to drag my feet to my couch, half-asleep, and think about how badly I want the Minnesota Wild to beat the Los Angeles Kings.

Wild at Kings

When: 9:30 p.m. CT
Where: Arena
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM

Anyways, the Wild are looking for some revenge after what happened last time they faced the Kings this season. It was just their second game, having lost their season opener to the New York Rangers, and Minnesota continued its trend of starting out games poorly, allowing the first three goals. It ended up being a 7-6 loss for the Wild, after a comeback was attempted, but it ended up being not enough.

That demoralizing defeat appeared to stay with the Wild as we had doubts that this team would be even adequate through the first several games. Now, it is a little bit later and this team certainly isn’t its best, but at least some questions have been answered and we’re feeling slightly more confident as this season unfolds.

In saying that, this team is still just barely passing by with a 5-5-1 record and the host of this matchup is sitting pretty with a 7-6-1 record and in a snug little playoff spot. The Kings are still an incredibly tough out no matter what, and them starting their own season off on the right foot, while the Wild are still trying to find out exactly what this team can be and do, is not the best scenario for our favorite hockey club.

This road trip is incredibly important, though. After facing the Kings tonight, the Wild continue going through the west coast, visiting the Anaheim Ducks and the Seattle Kraken. The Ducks can be the “easier” opponent, if that even exists, but all three teams have the weapons to suddenly put Minnesota down its own spiraling rabbit hole and question what they have in this roster.

Okay, let’s try to be positive and spread the good news. Jordan Greenway is back.

Projected Wild lineup

Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Matt Boldy
Connor Dewar — Marco Rossi — Mason Shaw
Tyson Jost — Sam Steel — Joseph Cramarossa

Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill — Calen Addison

Marc-Andre Fleury most likely gets the start tonight, with Filip Gustavsson getting the slightly easier matchup against the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow.

As mentioned, Greenway is making his return and is going to be playing alongside familiar center Joel Eriksson Ek and the uber talented Matt Boldy. While the Wild’s top line can certainly score, this should be a driving line that dominates possession and keeps the Kings hemmed in their own zone, unwilling to even think of escaping into neutral ice — on paper, anyways.

In related moves, Marco Rossi is centering the young-and-fast-and-gritty third line, while Joseph Cramarossa makes his season debut after being called up due to injuries earlier this week.

On the blue line, just one swap was made as Matt Dumba makes his return to the top-four and Calen Addison provides his dynamic offense further down, next to Jon Merrill. It’s still the same six guys — thank goodness we do not have to see an 11 forward, seven defensemen lineup tonight — on the blue line but just a little switch after some rough games last week.

Projected Kings lineup

Adrian Kempe — Anze Kopitar — Gabe Vilardi
Trevor Moore — Philipp Danault — Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala — Rasmus Kupari — Carl Grundstrom
Brendan Lemieux — Blake Lizotte — Arthur Kaliyev

Mikey Anderson — Drew Doughty
Sean Durzi — Matt Roy
Alex Edler — Sean Walker

Jonathan Quick most likely gets the start tonight.

Oh, poor Kevin. The last time Fiala was able to face his old team, he was on the top line, living his life on his new team and even scored a goal. Now, he’s technically on the third line but has been as productive as ever, scoring three goals and 14 points in 14 games. I promise to not get too mad seeing him thrive in Los Angeles, but makes you wonder what he could have done with just one more year with the Wild. Ah,

Anyways, this team has depth scoring and top-end skill to boot. On every line someone can shoot the puck pretty damn well, be annoying as hell, and be responsible defensively. The blue line might not be as full as the four forward lines, but that should more than make up for it. There’s a lot of talent here to be worried about.

Puck drop is at 9:30 p.m. Get your coffee or favorite energy drink ready to get super anxious about the Wild playing a pretty damn good team.

Burning Questions

How will Greenway look on his return?

It is his second attempt at making a comeback — albeit his second injury was not related to his first — so we are heading into this game with slight hesitation that Greenway will be his typical rough-and-tumble self, creating space for his linemates. But, with Eriksson Ek and Boldy now forming a dynamic duo, it might be just what he needs to ease back into things. He can certainly still have a statement game, though.

How about a return to the power play dominance?

For a while now, we were wondering if the Wild can be something else than a one-note team offensively, as they relied so much on their power play to score goals. Now, there’s just no goals from anywhere. So, let’s see if we can get back to that feeling and see that top unit thrive.