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Minnesota Wild vs Arizona Coyotes preview: stop! stop! it's already dead!

The Arizona Coyotes continue their atrocious homestand against the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes are one of the worst teams in the NHL at possessing the puck when the score is close. The Minnesota Wild are one of the best. This should be a fun affair.

Minnesota Wild Arizona Coyotes
Points 31 (5th Central) 23 (6th Pacific)
Goals Per Game 2.82 (13th) 2.24 (26th)
Goals Against Per Game 2.44 (T-8th) 3.24 (27th)
Power Play Percentage 11.2% (T-28th) 20.8% (T-10th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 88.1% (3rd) 76.8% (25th)
5v5 Score Close Corsi Percentage 47.2% (24th) 53.8% (4th)
PDO 100.0 (16th) 95.9 (30th)

View from Minnesota

The Minnesota Wild are a tough team to gauge. After a good start in the ultra-competitive Central Division, the Wild have cooled off a bit. They currently sit outside of the playoffs, and just recently lost a 2-1 game against the San Jose Sharks; the first of three contests in a row on the road. Part of the problem has been the inconsistent play of their goaltenders: Darcy Kuemper managed a .785 save percentage in his last five home starts. No level of offensive play is going to compensate for that poor performance.

Goaltending problems have obscured what is turning out to be a fairly potent offense. Zach Parise unsurprisingly leads the team in points, but Nino Niederreiter leads the team in goals with 12. With supplemental offense coming from Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Jason Zucker, the Wild are a team that has all the components up front. If their goaltending situation stabilizes, they should challenge for a playoff berth easily.

View from Arizona

What can you say about this team that hasn't already been said multiple times? The Coyotes have stuggled mightily to put together a competitive roster. Part of the reason has to do with a terrifyingly meager scouting staff, while another part has to do with a small budget that proved to be too small to stay afloat in the Western Conference. In whatever case, only the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes stand between the Coyotes and a guaranteed shot at either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

With that being said, there are still good things to look at when considering the roster. Tobias Rieder has shown legitimate offensive potential, and Keith Yandle remains an absolute stud on the blueline. If Oliver Ekman-Larsson could return to form as a Norris-caliber defenseman, the Coyotes would be going a long way to laying a solid foundation for the future.

Keys to the Game

  • Cover Someone In Front! - The slot has been a prime scoring area all season on Coyotes goaltenders. Defensemen and forwards alike need to do a better job keeping up on their assignments.
  • Cycle - When the forecheck can actually get going, it's pretty effective. The Coyotes have the offensive talent to run a top-notch power play, so holding the puck in the offensive zone can generate some chances.
  • Take Advantage of Reeling Goaltending - The Coyotes are not the only team posting below average save percentages. Neither Darcy Kuemper or Nicklas Backstrom have a save percentage above .910. If the Coyotes can shoot, pucks will probably start going in.

Who's Hot

Mikko Koivu has three goals and two assists in his last five games for the Wild. The Wild captain is on pace to post some of his best numbers in the past few years.

Antoine Vermette notched a power play goal in Thursday night's debacle against the Nashville Predators. That's about as close to hot as this team is getting right now.

Injury Report

Perennial pest Matt Cooke is on IR with some form of lower-body injury, while Keith Ballard (concussion) is out indefinitely. Marco Scandella remains suspended for an illegal check to the head.

Brandon Gormley is the only remaining played injured for the Coyotes, and it appears his return will be fairly soon.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 6 p.m. Arizona time. You can watch it on FOX Sports Arizona or listen to it on AZ Sports 98.7 FM.