Arizona Coyotes Host Flustered and Dangerous Minnesota Wild for Two at GRA

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Despite the perfect weather, the frustrated Minnesota Wild are in a foul mood and intend to darken the skies over the Arizona Coyotes.

The Minnesota Wild (12-7-1 25 pts) are in town to battle the Arizona Coyotes tonight and on Saturday, and they won’t be in a very good mood. Nope, those boys just lost two straight to the Golden Knights in Vegas, the first one 5 to 4 in overtime after leading in that game 4 to 2 in the third period. On Wednesday night, the VGK spanked them 5 to 1 with Zack Parise a healthy scratch.

The Wild currently occupy fourth place in the Honda West Division with 25 points, two ahead of the Coyotes. Most of their wins have been against the three California teams. They have beaten the LA Kings 5 times, the Anaheim Ducks thrice, and the San Jose Sharks twice, banking 20 of a possible 28 points from the west coast group.

It gets a bit tougher for the men from Minnesota, however, as after the two-game set with the Yotes, their next seven games are against the Vegas Golden Knights for 2, the Coyotes for 3 more, and then the Colorado Avalanche for two.

Blessed with such talented players as Zack Parise, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, and Ryan Suter, the Wild have won 6 of their past 10 games. The Wild are loaded with familiar names on that team, as the nucleus has been together for a while. Matt Dumba, Kevin Fiala, and Jonas Brodin are also significantly contributing to a team that competes well with the very best in the Honda West Division.

The play of Russian sensation and team points leader Karill Kaprizov (6 G 11 A 17 pts) is particularly worth watching. His name is at the top of the list for the Calder Memorial Trophy, an annual award that’s given to the player selected as the “most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”

The Coyotes have had difficulty playing the Wild, and lost all three of their games to them in the 2019-20 season. Two of those losses were at home, including an 8 to 5 entertaining, scoring marathon on December 19, 2019, but the loss of goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper to a knee injury was much more significant in the overall scheme of things.

If the Yotes can reproduce the hustle and willingness to block shots this weekend like they did recently against the LA Kings, they’ll have a good chance to come away with 4 points. That won’t be enough, however. The Kings had the “run of play” for the most part on Wednesday, and the light of victory can sometimes push a team’s weaknesses into the shadows.

You might recall that the Kings outshot the Coyotes in the third period 18 to 4, but thanks to the stellar play of Antti Raanta, the Yotes survived the assault. “Rants” had to play perfectly, as the skaters in front of him managed a meager 4 shots in the period. No wonder he was pummeled!

Let’s hope that the Coyotes are well-prepared for a similar onslaught from the Minnesota Wild. Let’s go Coyotes!