Prior to the start of the series tomorrow, I reached out to Joe, the managing editor, to ask him some questions so we can better know the enemy. Here is what he had to say about the Minnesota Wild.
How do you expect the D pairing and matchups to shake out without Suter?
There’s going to be a lot of youth on the back end, that’s for sure. With Ryan Suter out of the line-up the nearly 30 minutes a night have to be spread out. The top pair will go to Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Brodin is a defensive defenseman, while Dumba has a rocket from the point and likes to jump up in the play. Being elevated to the first pair will mean that these guys have to play smart and almost perfect to slow down the Jets. Next is Nick Seeler, who has a grand total of 22 games with the Wild after coming up from the AHL for injury relief and playing so well they couldn’t send him back down. He’ll play along side Jared Spurgeon (if he’s healthy, and that’s a big IF). The third pair will feature Nate Prosser, who has been back and forth with the Blues and Wild the past 3 seasons, and either one of elder rookie Carson Soucy or Ryan Murphy. Murphy could slide up to pair with Seeler if Spurgeon isn’t ready to go.
How has Devan Dubnyk been this year and does he have the ability to win a series by himself?
Devan Dubnyk always seems to have a month where he plays just incredible hockey. Last season, it was October and November that had him in the early Vezina talks before a brutal month of March took him completely out of the finalists group. This year, that month has just never come, unless you count the abbreviated month of April where his save percentage was around .938 against some teams trying to jockey for playoff positioning. He can get hot. the question will be is if he can get hot just in time for the playoffs. That said, he hasn’t stolen a series by himself yet, and I don’t see that changing.
Which forward is the x factor for the Wild?
The top line of Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Nino Niederriter/Mikael Granlund will have to be huge. But I see that line getting neutralized by the Jets and the Wild will need secondary scoring. Zach Parise, and really Mikko Koivu, have to not just play stout defense, but they NEED to be contributors on offense. This can’t be a one line team and expect to win.
Mikko Koivu is a Selke candidate, which line will he match up against or does he tend to handle defensive zone draws instead of line-matching?
I don’t know who you take away. It should probably start with the Scheifele line, but that’s a big gamble considering there’s two young studs on the second line with Paul Stastny. But my first hunch will be to try and take away the Scheifele line first and see what happens.
Bruce Boudreau has had a hard time winning in the playoffs. Do you think this year will be different and why?
Apparently he hasn’t had a hard time beating the Jets in the playoffs, though. (Sorry, not sorry). Boudreau has been beaten in the playoffs in Game 7’s by some really good teams and having his goalies perform just something awful in those games. It’s tough to point as to why his teams get beat, but as a fellow blogger wrote, Boudreau and the Wild’s legacy are now tied together. Their story arcs follow a lot of the same path in the post-season and they’ll both need to rise above the noise, maybe over-achieve a little, and just win baby. Unfortunately, the Jets are a bit of a buzz saw this year, and unless the Wild can do to the Jets what the Blues did to the Wild last year, I don’t think the Wild are long for the playoffs.