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Preview: Avalanche come to Minnesota fighting with Wild for playoff spot

Two Central teams are really going at it.

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild have a real opportunity to get some significant points in the standings tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. We’ve already started praying.

Wild vs. Avalanche

When: 8:30 p.m. CT
Where: Xcel Energy Center
Radio: KFAN 100.3

As it stands right now, the Avalanche and Wild are tied in points but Colorado has one game in-hand and therefore has earned the third spot in the Central division, as the Wild are wallowing in the Wild Card. With eight points between second and third in the division, it seems like it is really just up to these two clubs to fight it out for the chance to not risk Pacific teams catching up and snatching both Wild Card positions. And considering that one team just won the Stanley Cup and is only this bad because of injuries, and the other is just an underperforming mess without any offense; we’re terrified.

The only other game so far this season between the Wild and Avs was Minnesota’s third game of the season and it resulted in a powerful 6-3 loss for our favorite team. The lineup has slightly changed, but so have the Avs’.

Projected Wild lineup

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

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

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start after Filip Gustavsson had his boat rocked by the poor defensive showing against the Florida Panthers earlier this week.

With Marcus Foligno injured, Sam Steel is back in the lineup. The scoring has still not been there and he can talk about trying to get the greasy goals all he wants, but there is a lack of offense coming from these line combinations. Maybe it’s the roster, or maybe it’s the lines.

Projected Avalanche lineup

Artturi Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin
Evan Rodrigues — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Andrew Cogliano — Alex Newhook — Logan O’Connor
Matt Nieto — Ben Meyers — Denis Malgin

Devon Toews — Samuel Girard
Bowen Byram — Andreas Eglund
Kurtis MacDermid — Brad Hunt

Alexandar Georgiev is most likely going to get the start in St. Paul.

The Avalanche are still recovering from their slew of injuries that has caused them to drop points throughout the season. Gabe Landeskog is still out with a knee injury, Josh Manson is still recovering from a lower-body injury, Erik Johnson has gone on injured reserve, and of course just recently arguably the best defenseman in the league Cale Makar suffered a head injury and is out indefinitely.

And still, Colorado can dress a lineup that can really compete with a whole lot of teams. With that first line being MacKinnon and two play-driving wingers in Lehkonen and Nichushkin, no puck is really getting out in open ice. Even going down the depth chart you’re met with decent players that can score some timely goals every now and again.

The blue line isn’t the best but without three of their regulars, can you really blame them? Imagine if the Wild were without Spurgeon, Brodin, and Addison — they would be screwed.

Well, this game should be entertaining or depressing.

Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. because it is a national game.

Burning Questions

Please, can we see, like, three goals?

We just want to cheer and shout and scream for some goals. This team is desperate for a surprise blowout win and that would be miraculous in a game like this.

Can the depth forwards get involved?

It kind of goes hand-in-hand with scoring more goals, but the last time someone even remotely considered a depth forward scored a goal was Frederick Gaudreau when he scored against the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14. A month as gone by with only Kaprizov, Eriksson Ek, Boldy, and Zuccarello scoring almost every single goal from the forwards.