The Minnesota Wild looks to build off their shootout win over the Maple Leafs on Wednesday as they host the hapless Florida Panthers on Friday night.
The Panthers have been what many people expected them to be this season and that is a very young team in transition that will likely once again compete for a top three draft choice in April. Florida is two years removed from a division title and playoff berth but last season was a disaster and as such they laid claim to the second overall draft pick in which they selected talented Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov. Barkov, along with Jonathan Huberdeau will make up the nucleus of a very young squad moving forward but they’ll need a couple more top end picks and some free agent acquisitions before they can return to relevance which will likely take a few years. Nonetheless, the Panthers head into Minnesota to lock horns with the Wild who have been very impressive this season. Tim Thomas gets the call as he matches up against Josh Harding.
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The Wild have been gaining momentum in a big way over the last couple of weeks as they’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and sit just two points back of the Colorado Avalanche for top spot in the Central division. While Minnesota needs to work on their road game they have been virtually unbeatable at home this season sporting an impressive 8-1-1 mark at the Xcel Energy Center which is among the best marks in the league. Minnesota has been delighted by the play of Josh Harding so far this season as the reigning Masterson trophy winner for perseverance is really making a claim to be a number one netminder in this league. Minnesota is a very solid team and they’re hosting a very poor Panthers club and as such the line in this one is all sorts of crazy. Florida has been better of late but this is a nightmare for them here.