Keeping Up the Hot Streak: MN Wild-Red Wings Game Preview

AP Photo/Duane Burleson

The Minnesota Wild entered the NHL holiday break on a three-game win streak. Since Head Coach John Hynes took over on November 27, the Wild are 10-3-0. They look like a completely different team from the one that started the season. This is on top of more injuries to significant players, more AHL call-ups that had to be fit carefully into the salary cap, and an added workload for the team’s rookies. The Wild look to tie up their series against the Red Wings and extend their win streak.

The first time that the Wild played the Red Wings this season was also former Head Coach Dean Evason’s final game before being fired. The Wild lost that game 4-1, adding another loss to what was a seven-game loss streak. Even though the Wild outshot the Wings 38-23, they couldn’t get past a game that was played heavily with special teams. Three out of the five goals scored during the game came on the power play. In hindsight, Evason being let go makes sense because of how disjointed the Wild were playing. 

So what’s different about the Wild for this meeting with the Wings? Just about everything.

Are Any Injured Players Drawing Back Into the Lineup?

NOTE: After this article was written, the Wild announced that they had recalled Lucchini and Hunt from Iowa. The status of injuries is still unknown.

One of the biggest unknowns for the Wild is the status of their injured players. Just before the holiday break, the Wild reassigned forward Jake Lucchini and defenseman Daemon Hunt to the Iowa Wild. This is a hopeful sign that a few injuries will be fully healed after the three-day break. The most likely candidates are captain Jared Spurgeon, who has consistently been listed as day-to-day with his injury, and Ryan Hartman, who has been a game-time decision the past few games.

While Hartman is an asset to the team, the addition of Spurgeon back into the blueline will help both Brock Faber and Jake Middleton, who have been skating the lion’s share of defensive minutes for the past four games. After partnering unsuccessfully at the beginning of the season during Spurgeon’s first bout of injury, Middleton and Faber have been a solid top pairing. The only question with Spurgeon coming back is whether to break up a duo that is playing so well together. It would not be a surprise to see Spurgeon teamed up with Alex Goligoski or Zach Bogosian upon his return.

With Two Hot Goalies, Who Will Start?

Filip Gustavsson is back to Vezina-trophy form with a 1.75 GAA and a .936 SV% since the coaching change (November 28). Both of those stats are ranked first in the league in that time period for goalies who have played at least five games. 

Marc-Andre Fleury has had a slower return to his best but made a good showing against the Boston Bruins in two games that the Wild played last week. During the game in Boston, Fleury saved 40 shots, while the second game gave him a bit less work with 19 shots blocked. The second game saw Fleury creep up even closer to Patrick Roy’s record. He only needs two more wins to pass Roy. It also put him only two games away from 1000 games played in the NHL. 

Kirill Kaprizov Is Back on Track

Even though Kirill Kaprizov was still finding the scoresheet almost every game, he was having a hard time putting the puck in the net like fans were used to seeing. That’s changed, and the NHL even rewarded him with the first star of the week. Netting the game-winning overtime goal for two games in a row, Kaprizov also recorded a career-high 29:09 minutes of ice time.

Kaprizov currently leads the Wild in points with 12 goals and 19 assists (31 points). 

Minnesota Wild Podcast

To hear more about the Wild coming back from the holiday break, listen to the latest episode of Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast.

A Post-Mortem for the MN Wild Season Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast

In this episode, Mikki performs an autopsy of the 2023-24 season for the Minnesota Wild. She also touches on how a fresh start will be good for the Wild next season and the two brackets that she put together for the NHL playoffs this year.Links:Her Wild Side Merch Shop!Ticketmaster Affiliate LinkSocial Media:TwitterInstagramFacebookFor more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR  
  1. A Post-Mortem for the MN Wild Season
  2. Trading Gustavsson Would Be the Dumbest Idea Ever
  3. Bold Statement: I Would NOT Trade Brock Faber for Connor Bedard
  4. The Mom of Wild Twitter Says the Season Isn't Over Yet!
  5. The Wild Can Still Make the Playoffs if We Send Good Vibes!

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