The Minnesota Wild showed some grit in the opener of a four-game road trip in Anaheim against the Ducks. They emerged with a nice 4-2 win to record only their fifth win of the season. The Wild are one of three teams in the Western Conference who don’t have more than five wins on the season. As far as the entire league is concerned, the New Jersey Devils, perhaps the most disappointing team of the season thus far, is the only team under five wins. The Wild will be going into the desert with a record of 5-10-1, having suffered a 6-5 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Wins have been difficult to come by for the Wild this season. It’s still early, but they’re already digging a hole that will be too large to crawl out of if they don’t find a rhythm soon. There might already be some buyer’s remorse in Minnesota. They signed former New York Ranger, Mats Zuccarello, to a five-year deal in the offseason. As a 32-year-old, the move was a bit perplexing for a Wild team who looked at Zuccarello as a marquee signing. On a team that already had plenty of talent in place, he would have fit in nicely, but on the Wild?
For the price, Zuccarello has been off to a slow start with 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points. There is a lot for him to get going on the Wild, though I wouldn’t have signed a 32-year-old of his calibre to a five-year deal like that. Good player that can even be great at times, but not elite and won’t be great at 37. Minnesota got older with the deal when move teams want to get younger.
With Eric Staal leading the team in points at 35 years old, the Wild are depending on older talent to make up their core. Mikko Koivu and Zack Parise are up there in age as well, so while there is talent on their roster, but they’re getting old and cap strapped. The opposite couldn’t be truer for the young and energized Coyotes. Head below for our free Wild vs. Coyotes pick on Saturday night in Phoenix.
Minnesota Wild vs. Arizona Coyotes Pick
The Wild don’t have much room to get better at the deadline without any cap space on their roster. If Bruce Boudreau can’t get it to work with the group that they have now, then there isn’t much they can do to get better personnel wide. Selling at the deadline would be the most likely route the Wild take if the season doesn’t show signs of improvement before then. Jason Zucker called out his team following a 4-0 loss to the Canadiens a few weeks ago. The Wild responded with two straight wins, but since then they’ve won just two games in seven outings. Zucker’s message seemed to be forgotten pretty quickly.
Minnesota got into an entertaining contest against the Sharks in their most recent contest. The offence woke up to put a nice game together, but as soon as that happened, their defensive effort was terrible and Alex Stalock was awful between the pipes. Stalock was benched after allowing 4 goals on just 12 shots. Neither goaltender has been able to impress enough to be a fulltime starter for the Wild. It’s been pretty bad for both of them. Dubnyk owns a 3.64 GAA and .883 save percentage in ten games, while Stalock has been better, but still not good enough to be considered a clear cut starting option with a 2.85 GAA and 0.903 save percentage.
The Wild have been particularly terrible on the road with a record of 2-9-0. They’re going to have to outplay a young and talented Coyotes squad to get their third win on Saturday. The Coyotes are coming off a 3-2 loss against the Blue Jackets at home. Columbus was able to beat them at their own game in that one. However, I don’t think the Wild will be able to do the same. The defensive pressure from the Coyotes is likely going to be too much here.
Arizona have been terrific defensively in 2019-20, with just 2.31 goals against per game. Despite the loss against the Jackets, they’re 2nd in the league in that regard. The Wild have netted only 2.09 goals per game on the road this season, and it probably doesn’t get better in Arizona against the Coyotes. While the Coyotes’ offence has been stagnant at times, they should be able to exploit the Wild in this contest. Look for the Coyotes to show why the NHL is a young player’s league on Saturday night.