If the actual players of the Minnesota Wild can stay positive after suffering a 4-0 loss in Game 1 to the St. Louis Blues, so can we. There is no reason why this team should not be putting in a true effort and competing hard to even the series and head to Missouri with a 1-1 draw.
The simple fact that almost half of the entire game was played on the special teams — an area where we all know the Wild struggle — it was a doomed start to the first round almost automatically. If the officials put away their whistles just a little more often, this will be a different game and one where we can finally feel good about this team.
There is nothing really else to say about Game 2, other than to wish for an entirely different game and to maybe get over 45 minutes of actual 5-on-5 hockey. That’s it.
Projected Wild Lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov—Ryan Hartman—Mats Zuccarello
Kevin Fiala—Frederick Gaudreau—Matt Boldy
Jordan Greenway—Joel Eriksson Ek—Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime—Tyson Jost—Nicolas Deslauriers
Jake Middleton—Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin—Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill—Alex Goligoski
Marc-Andre Fleury is keeping the crease tonight, as he is set to be the Wild’s starter. It was a mixed bag of quality from Fleury for Game 1 — some saves were outstanding (including a couple breakaway chances and on a penalty shot) but pretty much every goal the Blues scored was off of a rebound. Hopefully with less time shorthanded, Fleury can get rid of those loss favorable looks.
The one swap that we are seeing is on the blue line. Goligoski is coming in for Dmitry Kulikov, after the latter had an absolutely abhorrent defensive performance on Monday. Goligoski will provide some more ability to get the puck up the ice and the sacrifice for size and having a less brutish blueliner, might prove better for the Wild offensively. That is where they need to put their focus on anyway.
Projected Blues Lineup:
Brandon Saad—Ryan O’Reilly—David Perron
Pavel Buchnevich—Robert Thomas—Vlad Tarasenko
Ivan Barbashev—Brayden Schenn—Jordan Kyrou
Alexei Toropchenko—Tyler Bozak—Nathan Walker
Nick Leddy—Colton Parayko
Torey Krug—Justin Faulk
Nico Mikkola—Robert Bortuzzo
After his 37-save shutout, Ville Husso is once again going to be in between the pipes.
Can the Wild stay out of the box?
The primary problem on Monday was the times the Wild just handed over some goals over to the Blues. While Minnesota itself got loads of chances on the man advantage — and went 0-for-6 — St. Louis took their chances and got half of their goals with someone in the box.
If, somehow, this game has a penalty drought and we see a lot more even-strength hockey, then we can at least be comfortable in the result.
Will the lineup changes (or lack thereof) be noticeable?
Kulikov out, Goligoski in, and Fleury remains in net. We might see a more fluid blue line with the veteran hometown lad lacing up tonight, but that is still to be seen. And with head coach Dean Evason opting to keep Fleury in net, rather than go with Cam Talbot, it will be extremely interesting if the starter ends up having a similarly floppy game and the goaltending controversy heightens.
Maybe they will make a difference, maybe not.
Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. It’s the freakin’ ‘yoffs, baby.