Minnesota Wild Look for 9th Straight Road Win


Good afternoon Wild fans. After an exciting win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Minnesota Wild head out to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs tonight at 6:30 PM CST. View the Wild’s playoff odds and TV listings here.

This is the only game remaining on the Wild’s schedule where the opponent has virtually nothing to play for; which is scary. The Toronto Maple Leafs are ranked 20th or worse in the four major statistical categories and have dropped 5 in a row being outscored 9 goals to 23. It has been 10 games since they allowed fewer than three goals and have converted only 3 of their last 36 power play opportunities. Shall I continue?

The Wild cannot think of this as an easy game, however. The Wild’s last “easy” opponent were the Edmonton Oilers who visited St. Paul and spoiled the Wild’s three game win streak. The Wild would go on to win their next 5 games. Given that difficult loss to the Oilers on February 20th, the Wild will be in the right mindset tonight, especially after having puck luck turn their way for a change against the St. Louis Blues. Sometimes, that’s all you need for a turn in confidence as expressed by Zach Parise after the big win.

Another confidence boost was given by Marco Scandella who returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing 9 games. Having Scandella back meant the return of Jonas Brodin and Ryan Suter as well as Jared Spurgeon and Scandella. Matt Dumba and Jordan Leopold are currently holding down the third pairing.

Watch Mike Yeo’s pregame presser here:

Devan Dubnyk will make his 31st consecutive start tonight and as Wild coach Mike Yeo noted, there is a good chance he will get the nod tomorrow as well. If you haven’t been paying attention to the NHL goaltending leader boards, give it a look. Currently, Dubnyk is 3rd in the NHL with a 2.12 GAA, tied for 4th in the NHL with a .927 save percentage, and is tied for 7th in the NHL in wins with 31. Those numbers are extremely impressive considering that he was a backup goaltender for the Arizona Coyotes for the first 3 months of the season. Does Dubnyk get your vote for the Vezina Trophy? Hart Trophy?

The Wild beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 back on January 2nd, that was Darcy Kuemper‘s last win. The Wild will look to extend their current road winning streak to 9. Their current 8-game road winning streak is a franchise record.

The Wild will need to defend Phil Kessel (24 goals, 30 assists) and James Van Riemsdyk (24 goals, 25 assists) well as they can score goals and create opportunities at will. As long as the Wild can get a healthy amount of shots on goal, the Wild should be leaving Toronto two points richer.

Here are my three bold predictions for tonight’s game:

1. Marco Goalo: Marco played over 19 minutes in his return to the lineup on Saturday and recorded just one shot on goal. Look for Scandella to make his presence known both offensively and defensively tonight. I like Scandella for his 10th goal of the year tonight.

2. Stew: When the Wild traded for Chris Stewart, my mind was blown. I was thrilled that we got him, yet had no idea where he would line up. After a few games of getting acclimated to playing with Mikko Koivu, he has found the scoresheet consistently. He has three goals and two assists in his last seven games and has complimented Koivu and Nino Niederreiter very well. He also has brought a great physical presence the Wild had been lacking before they acquired him. I like Stewart for his a goal and a helper tonight.

3. Granny: I am still waiting for http://www.hockey-reference.com/players/g/granlmi01.html to breakout and be the scoring threat we all know he can be. He currently sits at 7 goals and 26 assists but he has been more physical and has been more flashy. I like him for 2 points tonight as well.

Wild 5, Toronto 1