Minnesota Wild: Ryan Suter Ready to Play Against Winnipeg Jets

ST. PAUL, MN - JANUARY 13: Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild controls the puck with Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets defending during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on January 13, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JANUARY 13: Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild controls the puck with Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets defending during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on January 13, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Following Monday’s strong performance in Dallas by the third and liners, the Minnesota Wild will send out most of the lineup expected to play on opening night. Including Ryan Suter!

Puck Drop will be at 7pm central time at the Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota Wild play host to the Winnipeg Jets. Monday’s loss was an encouraging performance by bottom roster players against top line players from Dallas, tonight will be the reverse situation.

Forwards

The Minnesota Wild top 9 will all be in action tonight, as well as expected 4th line starter Marcus Foligno. Eric Fehr and Matt Read will be sitting this one out as the only potential opening night starters missing from this game.

Wild.com is suggesting that J.T. Brown is an expected starter, but I’m not convinced he has done enough in preseason to win the camp battle against Read to earn that spot. Look for him in this game, his performance could be a key to the RW battle.

Matt Hendricks is likely to be the 13th forward on the roster, and in the press box, coming out of camp. He will take Fehr’s spot in this one and look to help Brown, his frequent camp linemate, to earn that coveted spot.

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Minnesota Wild

The top line of Jason Zucker, Eric Staal, and Mikael Granlund looked extremely solid in the last game at Xcel, despite only scoring one goal between them. They have been solid throughout camp, but haven’t been hitting the scoresheet as much as we’d like. I’m watching to see if they can turn a positive performance into goals.

Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise will be back in as well, lining up with Nino Niederreiter again. Nino has played a lot of hockey in the preseason, and has not been the best on the ice at any point I’ve noticed. Koivu and Parise have each hit the scoresheet, I’d like to see them get Nino involved as well or else look at shuffling he and Granlund to try to get them on the board.

They say there is no rest for the wicked, well Charlie Coyle must be the worst then. He is dressed to play in his 5th of 6 preseason games so far, along with linewate Joel Eriksson Ek. The pair have each recorded 3 points and looked good no matter their centre. Jordan Greenway will be back in the middle of that line for his 3rd game.

With camp winding down, keep an eye if Bruce Boudreau decides to shuffle that 3rd line around. All 3 players have played center in the past, so Bruce may decide to test the organization to see how well they each play in the middle before regular season starts.

Defense

The entire top 6 Defense will be in the lineup for this game. You read that correctly, even Ryan Suter.

Suter is fully recovered from his severe ankle injury and is drawing in for his first game action since March 31st. This is big news for the team and for Ryan, as we were not expecting him to get in any action before opening day. It’s important for him to have this chance to knock any game rust off.

The question mark now will be whether he lines up beside long-time linemate Jared Spurgeon, of if Boudreau will test him out beside Mathew Dumba. As I reported after Saturday’s game against Colorado, Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin showed some real chemistry together which opens the option for Dumba to have a look at the top pairing.

Whichever way Boudreau goes, I would expect it to be the way we start the year in Colorado on the 4th.

Nick Seeler and Greg Pateryn will fill out the bottom of the lineup, and get to look at true third pairing minutes for the first time in camp. They’ve been shutting down top lines all camp to this point, so they should stand firm against the bottom line they will see against Winnipeg in this one.

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk will get the start again in this one, and look to bounce back from 2 lackluster performances against Dallas, both were behind a less than optimal defense. 5 of 6 Even Strength goals against came while defensive players not in the starting lineup were on the ice.

Most of his goals against so far have come while either Nate Prosser or Carson Soucy were on the ice. With his full starting 6 in the lineup, and those 2 out, he should be able to expect scoring chances to be kept to a minimum and we should expect he can keep the puck in front of him.

Alex Stalock will be the backup on the bench again, furthering the speculation that he will be the backup to open the season. I would expect he gets the final game on Friday in Denver, and Andrew Hammond will be among the final camp cuts.

Winnipeg Jets

This Winnipeg will be a slight step-up from the Colorado lineup the Minnesota Wild faced on Saturday, but still less than full strength.

None of the superstars are expected to be on the trip to St.Paul, so don’t expect to see Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, or Kyle Connor. Also, Connor Hellebuyck won’t be in net.

Instead, we will get to face the bottom half of their expected roster. Nikolaj Ehlers stands out among the forward group but isn’t surrounded by a ton of talent.

Jack Roslovic, Andrew Copp, Marko Dano, and Adam Lowry are all expected to be on the final team, but none should be top 6 players on this roster.

They will, however, be starting a good chunk of their expected defense. Minnesota Wild fans will get their second look of the preseason at Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Chiarot, those 2 will be joined by Dmitry Kulikov to fill out the top half of their D lineup.

It will be tough going for the Wild forwards playing against a tough defense, but they should be able to take advantage of the forward match-ups to push the pace and ultimately overwhelm the weaker Jets lineup.

It’s a slightly better match-up than the Wild faced on Saturday with Colorado, but still lopsided in the favor of Minnesota. A win should be expected, so don’t place too much value in the final score. Instead, I’m going to be watching closely for the overall team chemistry and unity.

Know Your Rivals - Winnipeg Jets. dark. Next

Prediction:

Winnipeg should be overwhelmed in this one, but the Minnesota Wild cannot take them lightly just based on the names on the roster. Winnipeg has some skill deep in their depth chart and could still be a good test. This should be a 5-1 final for the Wild, with the offense hopefully being shared throughout the lineup like it was on Saturday