Game Preview: Minnesota Wild Face the Preds to Open the Regular Season

The puck drops tonight at 7 pm (Central) on NBCSN. In this Central Division Collision, the hockey world will witness a Norwegian Lizard play on his second consecutive green NHL team and Canada’s Country Kid making his debut in Smashville.  We’ll breakdown who will start for both sides and what the Wild’s gameplan needs to be to succeed.

Minnesota Wild Lineup

ST. PAUL, MN – APRIL 02: Ryan Donato #6 of the Minnesota Wild controls the puck during a game with the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center on April 2, 2019, in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Parise-Staal-Zuccarello

Zucker-Koivu-Fiala

Donato-Kunin-Greenway

Foligno-Eriksson Ek-Hartman

Suter-Dumba

Brodin-Spurgeon

Seeler-Hunt

Dubnyk

About what we expected for the lineup. Surprising that Koivu is playing the second line, but given the history of success he’s had with Zucker on his line, it makes some sense. Wouldn’t have minded Kunin getting expanded responsibility, but putting him with Donato and Greenway could be dynamic and successful. We should also keep in mind that Bruce Boudreau loves to juggle and mix line combos, so this could change quickly.

Nashville Predators Lineup

RALEIGH, NC – SEPTEMBER 27: Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) eyes up to his opponent during an NHL Pre-Season game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Nashville Predators on September 27, 2019, at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Smith-Johansen-Arvidsson

Forsberg-Duchene-Granlund

Grimaldi-Turris-Jarnkrok

Sissons-Bonino-Watson

Josi-Ellis

Ekholm-Fabbro

Hamhuis-Weber (not Shea)

Rinne

The big change from the preseason roster is that the Predators demoted Turris to the third line center from the first line wing he was at with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, replacing him with Craig Smith. The nightmare for the Wild will be containing the second line, we know how spectacular of a passer Mikael Granlund is, have been victimized by Filip Forsberg’s elite play, and have had many interactions with the speedy Matt Duchene while he was in Colorado.

The Wild’s Gameplan

Avoid overtime. Seriously. The Wild are not good in OT. Also, probably should avoid shootouts against the Predators too. There were back to back games last season where the Wild lost to the Preds in questionable shootouts.

To avoid overtime, the Wild will need to come out hot. Too many times Minnesota has come out skating in the sand and playing from behind from the start. At the opposite end of the spectrum, play the full twenty minutes in the period. Too frequently last year and in the preseason, the Wild were almost out of the period until they gave up a goal in the last minute.

Work the body and keep the puck in the offensive zone as long as possible. Nashville is a smaller team and can be worn down easily. Furthermore, throw pucks on the net. They don’t need to snipe corners, just force Pekka Rinne to have an absurd game.

Lastly, contain that second line and the first pairing of defenseman. The top line and the rest of the defenseman can be contained, but the 2nd line and Josi-Ellis are scary.

Oh, and it’d be nice if Duby had a good game.

Interested in what the Preds view on this game is? Check it out here.