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Preview: Wild return home to face Sharks after exhausting trip

Season is closing out, but Minnesota still has some games left.

NHL: DEC 09 Wild at Sharks Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After an extremely typical modern Minnesota Wild hockey game against the St. Louis Blues — starting with disappointment, three-goal deficits that were eventually erased completely by the sheer will of Kirill Kaprizov, to only lose in the first minute of overtime — we are set to witness a potentially even more typical game against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

The Sharks don’t score any goals (ranked 27th in goals per hour) and they allow a good amount (21st in goals against per hour); so we are either in for a treat of a warm-up game to cool down Minnesota’s treacherous week, or just some weird weekend game where we want to forget the last 24 hours of hockey we experienced. Either can happen when these two teams meet.

In the two times they have faced each other so far this season, the Wild have walked away with a 5-2 win, or sulked in their home arena after losing 4-1. by way of goals from Timo Meier, Erik Karlsson, Mario Ferraro, and Tomas Hertl. Just a wonderful treat.

The Wild are still searching a way to officially clinch a playoff spot and it is definitely coming closer. Things will grow more closer as people much smarter than myself chew through the numbers, but considering the Blues were able to clinch last night when they earned just one more point than the Wild, then if Minnesota get the win, it should guarantee that spot.

For who will actually be in the lineup, it’s still somewhat of a mystery, but was made more clear by head coach Dean Evason after last night’s overtime loss in St. Louis.

Tyson Jost got a little banged up, so Connor Dewar will get another opportunity to impress even more than he already has. Marc-Andre Fleury will start as the Wild continue their typical rotation between the tandem. Matt Dumba and Jon Merrill are still out with their injuries with the former being a little bit closer than the later. And Jordan Greenway has started skating again after getting injured in a game earlier. So, generally, everyone is progressing and nothing substantial that should have a massive effect on the upcoming post-season.

So, I guess, here is what we’re thinking.

Projected lineup:

Kirill Kaprizov—Ryan Hartman—Mats Zuccarello
Kevin Fiala—Frederick Gaudreau—Matt Boldy
Connor Dewar—Joel Eriksson Ek—Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime—Nick Bjugstad—Nicolas Deslauriers

Jake Middleton—Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin—Dmitry Kulikov
Jordie Benn—Alex Goligoski

Fleury in between the pipes.

Burning Questions

Can Ryan Hartman continue this streak?

Ryan Hartman cannot be stopped. In his last four games, he has scored four goals and six points, benefitting from his linemates but just finishing plays like a natural top-tier finisher would. Can he take advantage of a lackluster Sharks defense to get on the board and make his career year even better? That would be something.

Will the Wild’s special teams make and/or break this game?

Lately, it seems like Minnesota is spending more time with one of their specialized units out there during the game, then they are playing typical 5-on-5 hockey. There is just something always going on whether it’s a 4-on-4, 5-on-3, 5-on-4, 4-on-5; whatever. Just nothing completely normal about it.

Maybe this time when they host the Sharks, they can just be normal and stay out of the box, or something like that.