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Preview: Hartman returns for battle against Senators

After a lengthy absence, Ryan is back.

Minnesota Wild v Ottawa Senators Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

What a perfect scenario for Ryan Hartman to come back from a lengthy injury. A little Sunday afternoon game against the Ottawa Senators — a team that isn’t so good, down with significant injuries, and on the second half of a back-to-back.

Plus, the last time these two teams met this season, it was a walloping 4-2 win for our Minnesota Wild and Hartman walked away with a goal and an assist. It was also a bloodbath.

Wild vs. Senators

When: 1:00 p.m. CT
Where: Xcel Energy Center
Radio: KFAN 100.3

Within the first six minutes of the Oct. 27 matchup, Brandon Duhaime and Austin Watson fought, and Matt Dumba and Brady Tkachuk dropped the gloves as well. Just a pesky start to what would end up being a special teams-filled affair, with 11 more penalties split between the two teams.

It was the Wild’s third win of the season, but right now they are looking for their fifth consecutive win and the 11th in the last 14 games. They are shooting up the standings and only getting stronger with some key pieces returning and the old familiar look of last season’s Wild team. The entire group feels whole again.

Projected Wild lineup

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

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

Filip Gustavsson is getting the start as Dean Evason starts to give him more and more games that aren’t just one half of a back-to-back — and it’s the added bonus of facing his old team.

Sam Steel on the top line is playing too damn well to split up for Hartman’s return — or as Evason said, it would be “silly” — so in his return he will be taking over for Sammy Walker and giving the duo of Matt Boldy and Frederick Gaudreau that supplementary skill and someone to be on the end of the insane passes that Boldy can make.

There is not much else to say about this squad since everything is settling into place. We should have known that as soon as Evason reunited the GREEF line, everything else would just fit together like puzzle pieces and we would all feel joy once again.

Projected Senators lineup

Brady Tkachuk — Derick Brassard — Claude Giroux
Alex DeBrincat — Shane Pinto — Drake Batherson
Dylan Gambrell — Rourke Chartier — Parker Kelly
Tyler Motte — Mark Kastelic — Austin Watson

Thomas Chabot — Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Sanderson — Travis Hamonic
Erik Brannstrom — Nick Holden

Anton Forsberg is most likely going to be the Senators starter since they are in their second game in as many days.

Woof. You know as soon as you see a team use Derick Brassard as their top center that that team is going through some injuries. Josh Norris remains out for a while, Tim Stutzle is out, Mathieu Joseph is out; and even on the blue line, they’re missing Artem Zub and Jacob Bernard-Docker as people that can contribute more than someone like Nikita Zaitsev and Travis Hamonic.

Anyways, that’s good news for the Wild because each pairing or line has one little piece that could be detrimental for the Senators’ downfall. The wingers of the top-six are scary, so I guess we should know that as Wild fans sometimes a line just needs two really good dudes and someone just to be there. Either way, there certainly is potential of collapse given literally every factor Ottawa is walking into this game with.

Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m.

Burning Questions

How will Ryan Hartman fare in his return to action?

It’s the big question on everyone’s mind. Luckily, he didn’t return Friday like he wanted to and the team was able to have him for a full practice before his return, so theoretically it should go fairly smooth. Plus, he’s playing next to a couple of guys that can string anyone along and look good.

Can Filip Gustavsson get revenge?

Filip Gustavsson is playing out of his mind right now. Basically saving everything from everywhere, he is now facing the team that gave him up in exchange for Cam Talbot, a guy that is doing all right in Ottawa — but is also older and more expensive, so.

He probably doesn’t have any bad feelings because he gets to play on a team that is currently in a playoff spot and if he stayed, he would be wallowing in misery near the bottom of the league. But knowing Gustavsson and how exhausted the Senators must be right now, he can put on a show.