There is really no hope for the Minnesota Wild currently. We have moved beyond the well, maybe they’ll get back to their old ways tonight feeling, and straight into expecting them to lose — and that present feeling only multiplies when facing the New York Rangers.
Two things can be true: The Rangers rely heavily on generational goaltending from Igor Shesterkin and their abnormally good power play while also sucking at basically a lot of other game situations, and the fact that they are still scary as hell despite that weakness. They might not be the most solid team from front to back, but those aspects of their team can wash away any concern during the regular season and against a team that is finding themselves in a difficult situation.
The Wild have now lost eight of their last 10 games, dropping points anywhere they can leave them and are now severely at risk of getting knocked out of a playoff spot that they have held on to seemingly since the first month of the season, in the next few days. Both the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators are running hot on Minnesota’s tail — the former tied in points and the latter just a single point below. Just a couple more slip-ups for the Wild and suddenly they will be outside of the bubble.
In more positive news, Jordan Greenway will make his return to the lineup, knocking out Connor Dewar — after a reportedly lengthy and difficult discussion among the coaching staff. With the Big Rig back in the lineup, this is the first time the Wild has been fully healthy since November. It’s been a long few months of absences, but maybe with the full group, the Wild can right their ship just ever so slightly.
Kaprizov - Hartman - Zuccarello
Boldy - Gaudreau - Fiala
Greenway - Eriksson Ek - Foligno
Duhaime - Sturm - Bjugstad
Goligoski - Spurgeon
Brodin - Dumba
Merrill - Kulikov
Cam Talbot is your projected starter.
Can they even attempt to beat Igor Shesterkin?
I am not even going to say that Shesterkin will have a bad game, or even that he will not be leaving Minnesota with another win — the man is 28-6-3 this season for God’s sake — but can the Wild maybe score two? Three? Can I dream about four goals scored?
The Rangers certainly have one of the worst defenses in the league, but the 26-year-old Hart Trophy candidate is leading this team through the numbers and proclaiming just win, baby.
Will the defense be good enough to keep the Rangers under three goals?
Lately, the Wild have not been able to contain any team. Even the stupid, slow and meandering Dallas Stars were able to score six (two empty-netters included, whatever). The last time we witnessed a Minnesota game that featured less than four goals allowed was against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 24, and before that it was the Jan. 12 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. There has not been a lot of defense, or even sturdy goaltending. Hopefully that changes against the powerful Rangers.