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Preview: Wild with big test facing Hurricanes

Skies are cloudy with little chance of a storm.

Carolina Hurricanes v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild are looking to win their fourth-straight game tonight against the top-of-their-division Carolina Hurricanes.

Wild at Hurricanes

When: 6:00 p.m. CT
Where: PNC Arena
TV: BSN, BSWI, BSSO
Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM

Sure, the Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Vancouver Canucks the last game, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with this season and definitely a formidable team to play. They’re leading the Metropolitan Division with 62 points, which puts them second in the NHL overall.

It speaks to how well they play as a team that they’re able to have that top position but their top scorer, Martin Necas, only has 39 points, and their two superstars, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, have 37 and 35 respectively. They click well and have a good defense that is hard to get around, when they’re not also scoring.

Surprisingly, their power play is among the worst in the League, and their penalty kill is about on par with the Wild’s. If the Wild can figure out how to break down the Hurricane’s defense and keep their own strong, they might just be able to add a fourth win in their streak.

Projected Wild lineup:

Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Mats Zuccarello
Matthew Boldy — Frederick Gaudreau — Ryan Hartman
Marcus Foligno — Joel Eriksson Ek — Jordan Greenway
Brandon Duhaime — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

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

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start in net tonight.

It’s the same lineup we’ve seen since everyone has been healthy, but we do have to wonder when Mason Shaw will get his opportunity again. With the Hurricanes not being the most physical team, maybe tonight is the night that we see someone like Connor Dewar or Ryan Reaves being a healthy scratch in exchange for Shaw and his energy. Although it would be hard to imagine Shaw on the ice without his buddy Dewar close by.

Projected Hurricanes lineup:

Max Pacioretty — Sebastian Aho — Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov — Paul Stasny — Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Teuvo Teravainen — Jesperi Kotkaneimi — Stefan Noesen

Jaccob Slavin — Brent Burns
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Calvin De Haan — Jalen Chatfield

Freddie Andersen is expected to be the starting goalie tonight.

Max Pacioretty is a game-time decision but he is expected to be back tonight after being injured playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jake Gardner and Ondrej Kase are also out on IR.

Sebastian Aho is on a five game point streak, and he’ll be the one to watch on the Hurricanes tonight as he’s no doubt looking to extend it. Andrei Svechnikov is also always one to look for as it seems he’s always doing something interesting in a game.

What is striking about Carolina’s lineup is just how deep it can be. No matter how you combine these 12 forwards and six defensemen, there will be someone extremely dangerous and a scoring threat on every forward line and every defensive pairing. If they play like we have projected, they will be having one of their top scorers on the fourth line because they are just so stacked.

May the best funky Russian left-winger with cool moves win. Puck drops at 6pm CT.