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Preview: Getting Wild in the desert

Back from the All-Star break, the Wild get to face a terrible team.

Arizona Coyotes v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

All the festivities of the NHL All-Star Game has come and gone and now we get into the real serious business of watching real hockey being played. Tonight, the Minnesota Wild are heading down to the desert to face the Arizona Coyotes.

Wild at Coyotes

When: 8:00 p.m. CT
Where: Mullett Arena
Radio: KFAN 100.3

Maybe it can be seen as a warm-up to get back into game shape after taking a mid-season holiday, but we shouldn’t really take any team in this league for granted, even if they are trying to lose as many games as they can on purpose.

The Wild themselves have to figure out what they’re doing because before the break, they were just scraping by with some close victories over the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres. Not the most dominant rosters where you need an overtime period to earn the two points over. Before that, it was the three-game losing streak that we were treated to, so just a whole pile of mediocrity.

Nevertheless, we’re happy to finally be watching hockey that means something.

Projected Wild lineup

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

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

Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start after over a week of rest and Filip Gustavsson gets to be the backup.

Dean Evason is keeping with his slight lineup change of putting Foligno with Gaudreau and Boldy that he debuted against the Sabres. That line played well enough — not surprised given the personnel — but the other side of that coin, Hartman joining Eriksson Ek and Greenway, seemed to struggle to really take control of the play. It doesn’t help when you have two struggling wingers with an all-around center that still needs offensive support.

Projected Coyotes lineup

Clayton Keller — Barrett Hayton — Nick Schmaltz
Lawson Crouse — Nick Bjugstad — Matias Maccelli
Nick Ritchie — Travis Boyd — Christian Fischer
Jean-Sebastian Dea — Jack McBain — Zack Kassian

Jakob Chychrun — Juuso Valimaki
Josh Brown — Troy Stecher
Patrik Nemeth — J.J. Moser

Karel Vejmelka is your projected starter for the home team tonight.

Wow. What a whole load of Definitely Hockey Players. Our old friend Nick Bjugstad is getting a solid look in the top-six to try and bait some playoff team into thinking that he will be the missing puzzle piece in their lineup, and then other than that they’re trying just to find some semblance of security with this group of 20 dudes.

All we know is that this could be the last game they play in Arizona, as they can be dealt at any moment for some future asset.

Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m.

Burning Questions

Will there be any rust?

The boys spent their time in Cabo for the past week, so while they were enjoying the sunshine, it might prevent them from getting right back on the horse and trying to secure a playoff spot.

They did at least have a length practice on Sunday, so we will have to see how affective that was.

How will Greenway and Dumba perform?

We are now less than a month away from the NHL trade deadline and both Matt Dumba and Jordan Greenway might be playing for their ability to stay on this team. Both players have been rumored to be available from the Wild, so now we’re just seeing if they can play their way into being needed for a playoff run or players that the Wild can get rid of and not really feel any effect.