Game Preview: Minnesota Wild at Edmonton Oilers


The All-star festivities are over and the Minnesota Wild are back in action at Rexall Place against the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 8:30 CST.

The nearly week long break couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wild after riding a brutal stretch into it. Yes, everyone and their brother said the same about the shorter Christmas break, but hopefully some time away for the players to reflect and recover will work to the Wild’s advantage this time.

The Wild have already provided a multitude of stories to talk about following the break. Most notably, Darcy Kuemper was assigned to the Iowa Wild on a conditioning stint. He’s working towards a return from the ever popular lower body injury and is allowed to stay with Iowa for up to two weeks because of his one-way contract. This goalie situation is rough, folks.

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That being said, the newly acquired Devan Dubnyk will get the nod tonight against his former team. Dubnyk has been average at best since arriving from Arizona. His .896 SV% and 2.34 GAA will need to improve if the Wild even want a sniff at the Playoffs. He was also yanked after giving up 4 goals in the game prior to the break against the Red Wings.

Ryan Suter is returning as the lone Minnesota representative at the All-star game. He had a goal and an assist buried somewhere among the All-star record 29 goals. His game was trending way down a few games before the break but finished on a little bright spot after he notched a pair of assists in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings

It looks like the Wild will be almost completely healthy for the first time in a long time. Mikael Granlund is expected to return from his wrist injury.

It’s uncertain where he’ll fit in the lineup after missing nearly a month, but his playmaking ability has been sorely missed.

The Oilers, 12-26-9, are (again) among the cellar dwellers of the NHL. Edmonton’s 33 points are better than only Buffalo’s 31 points. Positives have been nearly nonexistent for the Oilers this year, or the last five years for that matter.

Ben Scrivens looks to get the start in goal this evening. He is 8-16-7 on the season with a 3.05 GAA and a very Minnesota Wild-like .895 SV%. His struggles are no surprise in a town where goalies have gone to die in recent years. Whether it’s a product of defense or bad play from Scrivens, Minnesota should have a plethora of opportunities tonight.

Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall have been the go-to guys on offense for the Edmonton Oilers. The trio has 29 points apiece in what has been a difficult offensive season all-around. Edmonton ranks 26th in the NHL with 2.3 goals per game.

Needless to say, this is a fortunate starting point to the second half for the Minnesota Wild.