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Wild Facing Similar Struggles As Golden Knights Ahead Of Key Matchup

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights look across the ice at their opponents tonight in many ways it’ll be like looking into a mirror.

The Minnesota Wild have lost five of their last seven games and since their six-game win streak back in mid-December, they’re just 8-8-2. Their biggest issue will sound familiar too.

They can’t score, especially at even strength.

The Wild have managed more than three goals just once in the last 12 games and they have tallied five goals at 5-on-5 in the last seven games.

So, in a move that should sound familiar to VGK fans, Wild head coach Dean Evason attempted to balance out his forward lines.

Joel Eriksson Ek has been dropped down to the 3rd line while Ryan Hartman was reunited with Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello on the 1st.

Our defensive game is real good and we’ve got to stick with that. But we need to score some goals and we need to score some goals at 5-on-5. (The line shuffling) is order to find some secondary and some primary scoring. We just need to find some goals. -Dean Evason, MIN coach on Tuesday

It didn’t work last night as the Wild fell in Dallas by the score of 4-1. They did generate quite a bit more offense than they have in recent games though, posting 2.68 expected goals at 5-on-5. The “rekindled” top line of Kaprizov, Zuccarello, and Hartman was excellent outshooting the Stars 13-4 while on the ice together and posting a Cosri of 76.7. But, the line of Matt Boldy, Frederick Gaudreau, and Sam Steel struggled mightily and the Eriksson Ek-led 3rd line was on the ice for two Dallas goals.

Tonight will be the first time the Golden Knights have faced the Wild with Bruce Cassidy standing behind their bench. With scoring coming at a premium for both teams, choosing the right matchups could be the difference in the game.

The Wild used a similar lineup to the one they are using now back in the 2021 playoff series between these two teams. The 1st and 3rd lines are identical which should give us some clues as to how they’ll be deployed against Vegas.

In that series, the Wild looked to use the Eriksson Ek line against VGK’s top line (it was Tuch-Stephenson-Stone at the time) and let Kaprizov take on the Misfits. However, Evason consistently attempted to steal shifts with his 1st line against VGK’s 4th.

With Vegas on the road and out of control of the matchups, it’s likely we see Evason try to do the same again tonight. It would make sense for his 3rd line to take on Eichel, Marchessault, and Cotter while allowing Kaprizov to go after Karlsson, Smith, and Amadio and attempting to find offensive zone shifts against Kolesar, Roy, and Howden.

The real question comes with the matchup against the surging VGK 3rd line. Stephenson, Carrier, and Kessel scored three times in the previous game and have looked strong since being put together. Suddenly, they pose a matchup problem, especially to the Wild. Neither of Minnesota’s other two lines matchup well with that group on paper. The Wild’s 2nd line couldn’t get out of their own end last night, while the 4th line including former Golden Knight Ryan Reaves simply won’t be able to keep up.

This is a big game for both teams as they could find themselves fighting for the same wild card spot down the stretch. After their loss last night, Minnesota held a team meeting in which defenseman Jake Middleton said “we’re pissed.” Meanwhile, the Golden Knights come in feeling much more positive looking to keep riding the Dad’s Trip wave.

Oh, and Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for the Wild, in case this game needed any more intrigue.


Goalie Interference – Season 2 Episode 19 – February 8th, 2023




  1. knights fan in minny

    terasanko to the rangers

  2. THE hockey GOD

    from NY Post

    The Rangers did more business with the Blues Thursday afternoon, this time as buyers in acquiring forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola in exchange for a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick, Sammy Blais and prospect Hunter Skinner, the team announced.

    Tarasenko, who is in the final year of his contract that carries a cap hit of $7,500,000, fills the Rangers’ need for a top-six winger on the right side who can contribute offensively. The Blues retained 50 percent of Tarasenko’s contract in order for the Rangers to fit him under their cap.

    By waiving defenseman Libor Hajek on Thursday as well, the Rangers freed up even more cap space to accommodate Tarasenko and Mikkola’s $1.9 million cap hit.

    The first-round pick will be the later of the Rangers’ two heading into the 2023 NHL Draft, either their own or the one they received from the Stars in exchange for Nils Lundkvist earlier this season. If Dallas finishes with a top ten pick, it will shift to next year and be the later of those two. The fourth-rounder in 2024 will become a third-round pick if the Rangers make the playoffs this season.

  3. THE hockey GOD

    wild A%% rumor mill has
    Ryan o Really coming to Vegas
    as part of Eichel deal to the Blues

    really zzzztttttt out there

    • Emmanuel

      Roy maybe but not Eichel. I like RoR type players but hes worth a 2nd and a non top 2 in the system prospect at this point.

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