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Wild training camp preview

Scoring behind Fiala, goalie situation among keys to watch

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

With training camps set to begin on July 13 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, NHL.com is taking a closer look at each of the 24 teams in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Today, the Minnesota Wild.

The Minnesota Wild were 35-27-7 (.558 points percentage) in the regular season and will enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 7 seed, the Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6, .565), in one of eight best-of-5 series, and the winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Wild were 15-7-1 in their last 23 games before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, including 8-4-0 in 12 games after Dean Evason replaced Bruce Boudreau as coach Feb. 14. They have an opportunity to make the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons after not qualifying last season.

Forward Kevin Fiala was one of the hottest players in the NHL before the season was paused, scoring 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in his final 18 games, a stretch that included 10 multipoint games. But if the Wild are to advance to the playoffs, they'll likely need scoring depth behind Fiala (23 goals), Zach Parise (25) and Eric Staal (19), the only Minnesota players to score more than 15 goals.

"[The Canucks] have a really good group up front, good offensive guys and a really good goaltender," Parise told TSN in June. "Their goalie (Jacob Markstrom) made some really big saves against us so I think that will be a challenge. Their [defensemen] are mobile and like to jump in the rush and attack with four players. We had some really good games against them and it should be a good matchup."

 

Player to watch

Forward Alex Galchenyuk scored the fewest goals (eight) and points (24) of his eight-season NHL career. He scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in 14 games after he was acquired by the Wild in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 10, including three points (two goals, one assist) in his final three games before the pause. If the Wild are to have success in the qualifier series, the pending unrestricted free agent likely will need to be a factor.

Video: MIN@SJS: Galchenyuk pots backhander from the doorstep

 

Biggest question

Who will be the starting goalie? It appears to be a competition between Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock. Dubnyk has started all 26 playoff games the Wild have played since they acquired him in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 15, 2015. But the 34-year-old was 12-15-2 with a 3.35 goals-against average this season, and his .890 save percentage was the lowest in the NHL among goalies who played at least 30 games. He missed time in November and December while his wife dealt with a medical situation, and Stalock proved capable of handling the No. 1 role in his absence. Stalock, who was 20-11-4 with a 2.67 GAA and .910 save percentage in 38 games, started seven of the Wild's final eight games before the season was paused. Kaapo Kahkonen, a 23-year-old rookie who started five games this season, also could be in the mix for playing time.

 

Injury update

Carson Soucy, D -- Healthy for training camp after missing nine games before the pause because of an upper-body injury.

 

Fresh face

Gerald Mayhew was voted the MVP of the American Hockey League after he led the league in goals (39) and was third in points (61) in 49 games with Iowa. The 27-year-old forward scored two goals in 13 games with the Wild this season and could provide offense if given the chance.

 

Telling stat

Forward Mikko Koivu has played in 75.3 percent of the Wild's playoff games (55 of 73), sixth highest in NHL history for a player with one team behind goalies Pekka Rinne (84.7, Nashville Predators) and Martin Brodeur (82.6, New Jersey Devils), forwards Daniel Alfredsson (80.1, Ottawa Senators) and Ryan Getzlaf (77.2, Anaheim Ducks), and defenseman Chris Phillips (75.5, Senators).

Video: CBJ@MIN: Koivu buries snap shot off turnover

 

They said it

"It's disappointing that we had a ton of momentum going into the break. … Everybody was chipping in … If we can just get that mojo back and that jelling as a group, I think we're in a really good spot to just try to continue rolling." -- goalie Devan Dubnyk

 

Projected lineup

Zach Parise -- Eric Staal -- Kevin Fiala

Alex Galchenyuk -- Luke Kunin -- Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Foligno -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Jordan Greenway

Ryan Donato -- Mikko Koivu -- Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Matt Dumba

Brad Hunt -- Carson Soucy

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk

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