The Wild looked out of sync in its first game of the season, an effort in which it was slow and struggled to develop cohesiveness all over the ice.
But since that 4-1 loss Oct.4, the Wild has rebounded – dropping just one game in regulation and winning four in a row – progress that it can emphasize Saturday when it hosts the Avalanche, the team that upended the Wild on opening night.
“This will be a good test for us,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said.
While the Wild has improved the more games it’s played, the Avalanche hasn’t been steadily solid as one of the best teams in the NHL.
It boasts “arguably the best line in the league right now,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, since forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have combined for 23 goals and 53 points through 11 games.
“These guys are as good as there is, and they’re as exciting as there is,” Boudreau said. “[We’re] hoping to contain them, and that’s the reason when you’ve looked at why we haven’t had success gains this team we haven’t been able to contain this line. If we contain this line, I think we’ll have success.”
Colorado has won four straight against the Wild, outscoring the team 23-5 in that span. Like Boudreau mentioned, nixing that streak will likely depend on how much impact the Avalanche’s top line has on the game.
“Hopefully they don’t have the puck,” center Eric Staal said. “That’s the biggest thing. They’re obviously playing really well, high confidence. You just have to take away time and space. All top players, you want to make sure they don’t have the puck and when they do, there’s someone right in their face instantly and don’t give them time to make plays.
“They’re obviously generating a lot right now, so it’s going to take everybody on the ice against them to do a job and it’ll be a good test.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Nino Niederreiter
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Joel Eriksson Ek-Charlie Coyle-Matt Read
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
4-0-2: Record on home ice for the Wild.
7: Points for winger Mikael Granlund in his last six games.
1.94: Goals-against average for Dubnyk in his past six games.
10: Points for the Avalanche’s MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog Friday.
3-8: Colorado’s record in the second half of a back-to-back last season.
About the Avalanche:
Colorado is tied for the most points in the NHL with 16 amid a 7-2-2 record. With nine goals each, MacKinnon and Landeskog have tied the team record for goals in the month of October. Rantanen’s 20 points and 15 assists are one shy of tying Avalanche records for the month in each of those categories. Landeskog leads the NHL in game-winning goals (four). The Avalanche allows the fewest goals-per-game in the league, giving up 23 goals in 11 games.