Minnesota Wild to get a test with challenging homestand

The Minnesota Wild have won just two games at home this season and open a seven-game homestand on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
The Minnesota Wild have won just two games at home this season and open a seven-game homestand on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Wild embark on a vaunting portion of their schedule. With losing two games in a row and their starting goaltender, the Wild will have to play some of their best hockey all season if they want a chance to topple these teams.

Thursday: Pittsburgh

Saturday: Carolina

Nov. 23: Winnipeg

Nov. 25: Toronto

The Wild have a gauntlet of a schedule coming up. They play three Eastern Conference heavy hitters and the Winnipeg Jets, who are second in the Central Division

All of these teams are stacked upfront with forwards who can score and score often. Three of these teams are very defensive inclined or dominate puck possession.

Let’s take a quick look at all of them.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins this year are very average. They do not stand out in any specific stat or category and 6-7-3. They sit at 7th in the division but they are only four points out of a wildcard spot.

The leader in points is none other than Sidney Crosby and former Wild winger Jason Zucker is third. Hill Murray product Jake Guentzel leads the team in goals. They still have the big guns on offense. It will be tough for the Wild to match this team.

Carolina Hurricanes 

The Hurricanes come into this contest third in the Metropolitan Division. They are led by young centerman Martin Necas in points while Andrei Svechnikov leads them in goals by a significant margin. They are the number one team in the league in Corsi for %.

They are second in the league in xGF %. They are aggressive offensively and do a great job at not allowing shots. They are also second in the league in shots against.

Newly acquired and former Wild defenseman Brent Burns is their offensive leader from the blueline. With the way the Canes dominate puck possession, this will be an incredible test for the Wild.

Winnipeg Jets 

The Jets are ahead of the Wild in the Central. They are second in the league in goals against per game. They are also second in the league in save percentage.

Their goalie Connor Hellebuyck has been elite so far this year. Josh Morrissey leads them in points with 15. 14 of those points are assists, which he leads the team.

Mark Scheifele leads them in goals with ten. The Jets are more defensively inclined than they have been in the past. This could be due to new coach Rick Bowness. 

Toronto Maple Leafs 

The Leafs are still as loaded as ever up front. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Taveres, William Nylander, and Morgan Riely. They are all still here. Marner leads them in points with 19. The Leafs have been surprisingly good defensively this year. They are sixth in shots allowed and eighth in Corsi for %. They sit at second in the Atlantic Division

The Minnesota Wild have two wins at home this season. They are bottom 10 in Corsi for % at home as well as goals for at home. They are second to last in save percentage at home with an 86.64 save percentage.

Home has not been kind to the Wild this year. Traditionally the Wild have been fabulous in front of the home fans at the Xcel Energy Center. Normally teams would be lucky to play these highly skilled teams at home. The Wild, not so much. The Wild cannot afford to keep losing games at home.

This stretch of the schedule was going to be difficult regardless. It does not get any easier now that the Wild go into it without their starting goalie. There is a very real possibility the Wild come out of this stretch below .500 and on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.

Jordan Greenway should draw back into the lineup at some point during this stretch and that will give the Wild a boost.

If the Wild want to be a team that can contend and compete, then this stretch is a perfect opportunity to prove it. Every team faces adversity and has key players miss time due to injury. The Wild must lean on their stars and depth to prove they belong in the conversation of contenders.

Should be a good stretch of hockey to watch. Great time to be a hockey fan in the Twin Cities.

Let’s see if the Wild are up to the task.