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Preview: Wild host cold Red Wings, hoping for win streak

Detroit is not doing so well, so can the Wild take advantage?

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Minnesota Wild v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

I’m not ready to declare that The Minnesota Wild Are Officially Back, quite yet, but we’re slowly getting to that point where they can be up against any team and provide their typical shutdown defense and have Kirill Kaprizov go nutso all over the opposition’s goaltender.

Wild vs. Red Wings

When: 6:30 p.m. CT
Where: Xcel Energy Center
TV: BSN, BSWI, TNT, Watch it on Sling TV!
Radio: KFAN 100.3

In their last two games, they have allowed just one goal against teams that have pretty dang good offensive stars in the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. Now, they’re up against a team that has less talent at the top but can always just sneak in a goal or two, in the Detroit Red Wings.

Throughout the summer, Detroit went on a shopping spree to try and get out of the muck that was the draft lottery. They did all the drafting that a rebuilding team had to do, got some very good players along the way, and were ready to spent in free agency to surround their newfound core with some established talent. Thankfully, they are still kind of bad and aren’t fully there yet.

They have lost six of their last eight games and one of their wins came against the terrible Columbus Blue Jackets. Detroit isn’t doing too hot right now and the Wild might just take advantage of that, since their trajectory is going in the opposite direction.

If the Wild can be crowned the winners tonight, then they might just go on a tidy win streak heading into the holiday break. After the Red Wings, the Wild are facing a collection of bad teams like the Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks. That is literally the order of the games leading up to the holidays. It is not far-fetched to think that the Wild can take all 10 points remaining.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and look at what we have in store tonight.

Projected Wild lineup

Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
Sammy Walker — Frederick Gaudreau — Matt Boldy
Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

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

With a slate of games coming up that is evenly spaced out, Dean Evason is using this time to have Filip Gustavsson be the starter after his shutout against the Canucks last weekend.

The lineup will not change because they are still winning games. Until Ryan Hartman and/or Brandon Duhaime return from injury, we won’t see a deviation in these four lines and probably won’t see the blue line change all that much anyways.

Projected Red Wings lineup

David Perron — Dylan Larkin — Lucas Raymond
Pius Suter — Michael Rasmussen — Dominik Kubalik
Adam Erne — Andrew Copp — Oskar Sundqvist
Jonatan Berggren — Joe Veleno — Austin Czarnik

Ben Chiarot — Moritz Seider
Jake Walman — Filip Hronek
Jordan Oesterle — Gustav Lindstrom

Alex Nedeljkovic is projected to be in between the pipes for Detroit.

The Wild might be getting some unfortunate flashbacks to last season’s first-round defeat when they face David Perron on the top line tonight, but luckily, after that, there isn’t that much to worry about. Sure, some players like Dominik Kubalik, Andrew Copp, and Adam Erne, can just score goals out of nowhere, but overall there is not the knee-trembling depth that the Wild need to worry about when it comes to other opponents.

And even on the blue line, if the Wild use their speed correctly, there is at least one defender on each pairing that has the tendency to get turnstiled and is way less mobile than the other. Maybe we’re just underrating this Detroit team, but this lineup doesn’t really strike fear one bit.

Puck drop is at 6:30 p.m.

Burning Questions

Can Sammy Walker do even more to become our favorite player?

In just two games, Walker has gone from neat little college free agent that is doing well in the AHL, to one of the most entertaining players in this entire organization. He is just so fun to watch, it’s incredible. He’ll do little spin moves out of nowhere, gliding across the offensive zone making defenders look silly and can keep possession all the same.

Anyways, will he continue doing that tonight or will Evason want him to play a more safe-but-productive game against Detroit? He hasn’t earned a point yet, so maybe that’s what he can do as well.

Will the Wild continue their recent defensive streak and allow two goals or less?

Against the Oilers and the Canucks, just one goal was allowed in the 120 minutes of action. That is a hell of an accomplishment for a team that was struggling defensively just a month or so ago. So, can they keep it up tonight against some other pretty good offensive talents? We’ll not call for a shutout, but maybe just something totally achievable.