The Minnesota Wild look to build up some momentum on Saturday night after a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. It was a gutsy performance by the Wild, as they stymied a dangerous Lightning offence. The win was a nice comeback effort after getting drilled by the Penguins, 7-3.
They were also on a four-game skid and losses in six of their previous seven games before getting back in the win column. The Wild did a nice job of getting back on track following a slow motion start to the season, but they can’t allow things to revert back to where they were. Minnesota lost four straight games, and were losers in six of seven games to open the year.
Things began to pick up for the Wild in late November, as they beat the Devils and opened up a five-game winning streak. They had wins in six of eight games until mid-December, and then their season went sideways again. The Wild were treading water, when the road fell out from underneath them with losses in six of seven games. Where the rest of their season goes is difficult to pinpoint. I will say that a record of .500 isn’t what they expected when they signed Mats Zuccarello.
They’re one of those dark horses who could sneak into the playoffs, or on the flip side, fall fast in the next two months. At 21-20-6 on the season, the Wild are going into a critical point in the season. It looks dire right now with 48 points and last in the Central Division, though only 6 points is the difference between them and the Jets. They have a better roster than the record indicates, but Bruce Boudreau has been unable to get the most out of his team.
With the number of head coaches getting fired, Boudreau can’t feel very comfortable about his position in Minnesota. Gerard Gallant is available which may make it easier for the Wild to fire Boudreau and quickly acquire Gallant before another club does. The next couple of weeks are going to be important for him and the Wild.
We’ll see if they can build off the Lightning win and generate a strong push and momentum. They face a Stars team who are coming off a 4-1 loss at home against the Buffalo Sabres. Along with the loss, the Stars received bad news as their leading playmaker on the blueline will be unavailable tonight. Head below for our free Stars vs. Wild pick.
Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Odds:
Stars vs. Wild Prediction:
The Stars will have to operate without superstar in the making blueliner, Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen received a shot to the head by a knee when he was falling along the boards, which will hold him out for at least tonight. Fortunately for the Stars, it isn’t anything overly serious and he is listed on the injury report as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
If his head injury does linger, it’s going to be a major hit for the Stars who’ve relied on Heiskanen’s ability defensively and offensively. He’s been effective clearing pucks in the defensive zone, along with contributing on the point in the offensive zone. His absence in Minnesota should be felt tonight. Radek Faksa may miss his third straight game tonight, as the forward continues to deal with a lower-body injury.
Faksa would have been helpful against the Sabres because the offence was non-existent versus a beatable defence. The offence has struggled throughout the season to find consistency. Their defensive effort is there, but the offensive firepower has been lacking. If Ben Bishop has an off game, then major cracks begin to emerge for the Stars. Dallas are 26th in the NHL with 2.62 goals scored per game.
Despite how good they are defensively, Bishop will have to get hotter than hot for the Stars to reach the Stanley Cup Final with that kind of offensive output. Their offence likely wouldn’t be able to keep up otherwise. The Stars are 1st with 2.36 goals against per game, though they fall to 2.65 goals against on the road.
Bishop has posted crazy good numbers at home in 2019-20, as he’s notched a 1.91 GAA and 0.938 save percentage in 20 starts. However, outside of the American Airlines Center, Bishop’s production regresses to a 2.83 GAA and 0.912 save percentage, which is rather a pedestrian mark for the veteran netminder. Overall, the Stars have been a rather average team on the road, with a record of just 12-9-2, while the Wild have only been successful at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.
The Wild are 12-5-4 at home as opposed to 9-15-2 on the road. Dallas have also found it difficult to win in Minnesota, as they’ve won just two of their last seven trips here. Expect the loss of Heiskanen to provide the Wild with enough wiggle room to exploit their defence. It should be close, but at even money a 3-2 win for the home squad looks like good value.