The Wild has been one of the most dominant teams in the NHL on home ice this season, and continuing that prowess inside Xcel Energy Center when the team begins a five-game homestand Thursday against the Coyotes could be just the lift it needs to tighten its grip on a playoff spot.
“We want to make sure we take care of business here,” forward Charlie Coyle said.
Much of the homestand, which is the Wild’s second longest of the season, features other teams jostling for playoff spots, but the stretch kicks off against an Arizona club that slots 31st in the league. But the Wild is aware it can’t overlook any opponent in the NHL.
“The first game does set the tone for the homestand,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We gotta make sure that we play in a lot of ways like we did against St. Louis [Tuesday in a 6-2 win] but better than we did in St. Louis. When a team that you’re playing is sort of out of the playoffs, they’re loosey-goosey. They got nothing to lose. They play really hard, and I’ve watched a lot of their games and that’s what they do. They play really hard. If they get a couple early goals here, then they’re very difficult to beat.”
The Wild won’t have defenseman Jonas Brodin available for this homestand, as he’s sidelined three-to-four weeks after undergoing surgery to fix his fractured left hand.
“Losing him for an extended period of time is tough,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “He’s a guy that does a lot on the ice that doesn’t get noticed. Gets noticed by us in here, but he’s not a flashy player. But he does a ton of pretty spectacular things that go unnoticed. We’re certainly going to miss that, but it’s a good chance for some guys to step in and play some bigger minutes.”
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Tyler Ennis
Zach Parise-Matt Cullen-Charlie Coyle
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Daniel Winnik
Ryan Suter- Jared Spurgeon
Gustav Olofsson-Matt Dumba
Mike Reilly-Nate Prosser
9-0-2: The Wild’s record against the Coyotes in the last 11 games – the longest point streak in team history against any opponent.
10: Power-play goals by the Wild since Jan.13.
1: Goal in seven of the last nine games for winger Jason Zucker.
28: Points for winger Mikael Granlund on home ice, a team high.
0-3: Arizona’s record against the Wild last season.
About the Coyotes:
The Coyotes have been unable to overcome a putrid start, a 0-10-1 debut in which they became just the second team in NHL history to open the season with 11 straight losses. They rank last in the NHL with just 12 wins and 33 points. Arizona is the midst of a four-game losing streak, most recently falling 4-3 in Winnipeg to the Jets Tuesday. Rookie Clayton Keller is tied for the team lead in goals (14) while also pacing the Coyotes in points with 36. Goalie Antti Raanta boasts a .916 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average.