Preview: The Wild visit the new ‘State of Hockey’

Mar 29, 2023 - 4:25 PM
NHL: Minnesota Wild at <a href=Colorado Avalanche" src="" />
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are set for a monumental matchup to determine the top dog in the Central Division tonight at Ball Arena in Denver, CO. Can Colorado reclaim their divisional throne? Or will the Wild send the champs a message? The Avalanche have not lost to the Wild this season and won the last showdown 3-2.

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado has their best look yet at taking first place in the Central with a victory this evening. Ball Arena should be roaring as much as it has since last year's playoff run. This is what it's all about late in the regular season. Two outstanding teams vying for divisional supremacy with few games left to do so. Can't we bust out the pompoms early?

The Avalanche could secure a season sweep of the Wild tonight, something Colorado hasn't achieved since the 2017-2018 season. All signs point to this being a fast-paced and high-octane matchup likely to be full of momentum swings. Hopefully, the Avalanche can fall back on their experience and roll with the emotional pendulum that comes with a playoff atmosphere. That's what we will get tonight. Regarding my headline, I’ll let Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar lay it out for you!

Projected Lineup:

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Alex Newhook — J.T. Compher — Evan Rodrigues
Denis Malgin — Lars Eller — Matt Nieto
Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Logan O'Connor

Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Bowen Byram
Jack Johnson — Erik Johnson

Note: Colorado currently has four listed injured players. Gabe Landeskog and Pavel Francouz are on the IR, with Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson listed as 'OUT.'

Minnesota Wild

Minny is a well-rounded club and not one carried by elite performances from Karill Kaprisov, who has been out for some time. They are 7-1-2 in their last ten games and have gotten excellent goalkeeping as of late. Marc Andre Fleury has found the fountain of youth this season, winning eight of his last ten starts, but that feels unsustainable. Filip Gustavsson has also been good, winning six of his last ten starts. If the Wild steal games in the playoffs on the back of their netminding, they may prove a real threat in the west.

Watch on young Matt Boldy, who scored his first career hat trick against the Seattle Kraken in the Wilds' last contest. He's logged an assist against the Avalanche in each of their previous two meetings and is the player with which Bowen Byram dropped the mitts.

Projected Lineup:

Marcus Foligno — Ryan Hartman — Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Johansson — Joel Eriksson Ek — Matthew Boldy
Brandon Duhaime — Frederick Gaudreau — Oskar Sundqvist
Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

Jacob Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Mathew Dumba
Jon Merrill — Alex Goligoski

Note: The Wild will be without their most dynamic performer, Kirill Kaprizov, who has been out since March 8 with a lower-body injury.


Alexandar Georgiev will return to the net after getting a spell from Jonas Johansson against the Anaheim Ducks. Jo Jo looked good against the Ducks, but it's Georgiev's net in Colorado. He has made that abundantly clear as of late, swaying the opinion of any preseason naysayers.

Will it be Filip Gustavsson or Marc Andre Fleury in net for the Wild tonight? Either way, the Wild have been leaning on their two netminders lately. That's a bold strategy against an Avalanche team that has scored a powerplay goal in twelve straight games. My guess is the Flower will get the start.

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