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Preview: Wild host Stars as December winds down

We’re aiming for the Stars (to lose).

Minnesota Wild v Dallas Stars Photo by Sam Hodde/NHLI via Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild host the top-of-the-division Dallas Stars in a game studded with good players and a recent history of close scores.

Stars vs. Wild

When: 7:00 p.m. CT
Where: Xcel Energy Center
TV: BSN, BSWI, TSN5
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM

We’re not going to lie to you — the Stars are looking like a pretty decent team right now. They’ve got a solid amount of points sitting first in the Central Division, lots of solid depth to call upon and, of course, Jason Robertson as a top line forward as they chase the third win in their streak.

Robertson is always the player to watch on the Stars. Although he is no longer the top goal scorer in the league, he’s still a dangerous one with 51 points in 36 games and certainly more where those came from.

The good news is the Wild have been playing a series of solid games lately, with a few notable exceptions, and managed to come out on top when they faced off against Dallas earlier this month. Sure, it was an ugly one, but they did win, and another win to solidify their confidence will be really helpful heading into the new year.

If the Wild can keep a cool head, keep the momentum going through the entire three periods, and play a simple game, they might just come out with a W.

Projected Wild lineup

Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Ryan Hartman
Matt Boldy — Frederick Gaudreau — Sammy Walker
Adam Beckman — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

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

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net.

Sammy Walker netted his first NHL goal against Winnipeg, and he’ll certainly be looking for another with that confidence boost.

Mason Shaw is serving his last game suspended for kneeing Evgeny Svechnikov in the game against the Jets, so he will not be playing. Brendan Duhaime and Marcus Foligno are both on IR, but we do have Jake Middleton returning to the blue line.

Projected Stars lineup:

Jason Robertson — Roope Hintz — Joe Pavelski
Joel Kiviranta — Tyler Seguin — Ty Dellandrea
Jamie Benn — Wyatt Johnston — Mason Marchment
Fredrick Olofsson — Radek Faksa — Luke Glendening

Miro Heiskanen — Nils Lundkvist
Ryan Suter — Colin Miller
Esa Lindell — Jani Hakanpaa

Jake Oettinger is expected to start in net.

Ty Dellandrea had a decent game against Nashville, and is playing well on the second-line with Tyler Seguin. Additionally, 19-year-old rookie Wyatt Johnston has had a solid season, especially as a freshman, and he’ll be one to keep an eye on against the Wild tonight. Stars Captain Jamie Benn is on a six-game point streak and looking to extend it to a seventh, as the team’s third-leading goal scorer.

Denis Gurianov is out indefinitely for personal reasons.

Puck drops at 7:00 p.m.

Burning Questions

The Wild vs. the third period

The Stars have established themselves as a third-period team, with many of their strongest goals and comebacks happening in the last 20 minutes of a game. Will the Wild be able to rally and hold them off, or will they fall into Dallas’ trap?

What’s Sammy Walker gonna do?

We love a good ol’ hometown boy story around here, and Walker working his way up through the Wild pipeline to get to play winger on the third line is a good one. He’ll need to pull off some solid play to stay in the lineup when the rest of the roster comes back healthy, and that challenge continues tonight. Will he put a good foot forward and contribute well?