Previewing the Matchup at Mile High

The Minnesota Wild travel to Denver to take on Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. What do the Wild need to do to contain this high flying team?

Last season, the Minnesota Wild split the season series with the Colorado Avalanche 2-2. When they succeeded, the Wild were able to lockdown the Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen line to three points (1G, 2A). When they lost, the ‘Rocky Mountain Line’ ran wild, only scoring one more goal than when they lost, but allowed for their depth group to take advantage of exhausted Wild skaters. With the additional depth and bolstered defense, what does Minnesota have to do to leave Denver with their first victory of the season?

What Minnesota Has to Do

The Wild absolutely need to contain the Rocky Mountain Line. If MacKinnion or Landeskog get loose, it will be a long night for the Wild. There are a couple different strategies the Wild could utilize to accomplish this.

First, play hard prevent defense in their own defensive zone. This would require our best defensive unit on the ice (Koivu’s or 4th line) with the RML and the Wild collapsing in front of the net, getting bodies in front of pucks.

As amazing as that stretch was for Nick Seeler, he will not suit up tonight. As I predicted, Carson Soucy will play in Nick Seeler’s spot tonight. I’m unsure if I would rather have Hunt-Soucy or Hunt-Seeler, but I’m guessing Bruce isn’t comfortable playing two heavily physical defenders on the same pairing.

The second option, go head-to-head with your best line. This could work if the aforementioned line is able to keep the puck in the offensive zone. There’s some issues; the Rocky Mountain Line will definitely be a faster and likely more skilled line than what the Wild would matchup with and I’m unsure what the Wild would matchup with. As I mentioned in the recap of the Nashville game, the Parise-Staal-Zuccarello line was not good. Before confirming that Soucy was playing tonight, Russo tweeted:

I am going to assume that Bruce will keep Staal as the first line center and I like combining him with the youthful jump Donato brings and the playmaking ability with Zuccarello. Still, I’m unsure if this is the right strategy.

Also, don’t be surprised to see Suter and Spurgeon reunited. Not a demotion to Dumba, but Suter and Spurgeon are spectacular defensive defenseman and can lock down the ice.

Lastly, keep an eye on André Burakavosky, Nazem Kadri, and Cale Makar. André and Kadri are significant upgrades from Kerfoot and Soderberg so the Wild can’t get lazy there. And if the Wild let Jared Spurgeon 2.0 (aka Cale Makar) have too much space on the ice, Makar will capitalize. He had his first career NHL goal before he registered an NHL regular season game. This kid is legit.

What to Expect in Tonight’s Game?

Should be a nice and frien-

It’s going to be like that?

Alright, fine.

This game will be gritty and hopefully entertaining to watch. This would be the most entertaining current rivalry in a world where the SJ-VGK rivalry doesn’t exist. Devan Dubnyk looked good in game one, let’s hope for a repeat performance with more sustained and consistent offense.

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