Despite ending their streak right before they take off for Raleigh, the Wild certainly didn’t roll over without a fight Thursday. Hopefully, the singular point can propel them into a good effort against a very good Carolina Hurricanes team.
After beating the Canes on February 12 3-2, Kevin Fiala told the media, “if they’re contenders, so are we.” And that game absolutely looked like it could be a preview of what a Stanley Cup Final between these two teams could look like.
I imagine it will be a high-octane game with both teams feeling as though they’ve got something to prove against a pretty worthy opponent. The Canes are facing a bit of a patchwork quilt version of the Wild tonight, however. Matt Boldy and Jon Merrill are injured and won’t play, Merrill didn’t even tag along for the road trip.
While significant guys are missing from the lineup, Bill Guerin’s trade deadline puzzle-boxing has ensured that the Canes won’t be facing essentially an AHL team which many an injury/Covid-riddled-team has had to do a time or two this season. No, the Wild are certainly deep enough to fill those holes with certified NHLers who have more than proved their mettle with the Wild this season. Alex Goligoski will play in Merrill’s spot — that bottom pairing has done some rotating recently, anyway — and the elder defenseman is probably the most rested and healthy of the entire team right now. Tyson Jost will get a look at playing on Fiala’s line. It absolutely hurts not to have Boldy along but I can’t say I’m upset at getting to see Jost try his hand at some bigger minutes with some skilled linemates.
Carolina is playing hot tonight too, after gaining a shut-out on Thursday against Montreal.
It’ll be a tough one, but Thursday the Wild proved they aren’t afraid to go to all out war for these games.
Kaprizov - Hartman - Zuccarello
Jost - Gaudreau - Fiala
Greenway - Eriksson Ek - Foligno
Duhaime - Bjugstad - Deslauriers
Middleton - Spurgeon
Brodin - Dumba
Goligoski - Kulikov
In net: Marc-Andre Fleury makes his third start in a Wild sweater (we should probably stop counting them soon).
See you for puck drop at 6:00 p.m.!
Who wins in tonight’s Dueling Goaltenders?
I am not talking about Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury this time and instead talking about Fleury against the other team’s netminder, Frederick Anderson. Anderson has been pretty incredible this season as he leads NHL goalies with a 2.00 goals-against average and is second in the league with a .929 save percentage. (Listen, but I can’t say an ounce of me regrets drafting Freddie for my fantasy league this year. I am benching him tonight though, because it seemed like bad luck to put him in against Minnesota.)
Fleury, on the other hand, has a 2.88 GAA and .909 save percentage. Of course, that’s largely including his time in Chicago. Tonight’s game will be especially interesting because it will be Fleury’s first time with Minnesota against a team that will likely make him work.
Will Kirill Kaprizov set a franchise points record tonight?
Kaprizov scored his 83rd point this season on Thursday, tying Gaborik’s record. It’s too bad he won’t be at The X when he proves once and for all (lol like he hasn’t a million times already) that he’s the most exciting player the Wild has had play for their club.