Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Minnesota Wild Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

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It has not been an easy week for the Minnesota Wild.

Amidst a four-game losing streak and a rash of injuries, the Wild hope to get back on track when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Minnesota is coming off a 4-1 setback against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, their fourth straight regulation defeat. While the streak is not the longest they’ve gone through this season, it is the longest stretch without earning any points. It’s seen them drop to seventh in the Central Division.

The current rut comes after had won seven of their previous eight (7-1-0).

“You have to have the right answers from a tactical standpoint, but also there is the mental side of it and the emotional side of it,” Wild coach John Hynes said. “You always take all those things into consideration, whether you’re on a winning streak or whether you’re on a losing streak.”

Not helping matters is a lengthy injury list featuring many key players. Forward Kirill Kaprizov, defenseman Jared Spurgeon and goalie Filip Gustavsson recently joined that group that already included the likes of Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Foligno and Jonas Brodin.

“Gotta dig deep, find ways to win,” Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “That’s the bottom line. We need points, and obviously it’s tough to lose. It’s frustrating, but we can’t drag this on too long. We’ve got to get over it, learn from this, get over it quick and be ready for Columbus.”

Kaprizov and Zuccarello, who hasn’t played since Dec. 16, are the team’s top two point-getters. Rookie Marco Rossi is tied for third on the team with 11 goals and fourth with 23 points. But it’s been a bit of a struggle of late for the 22-year-old, who hasn’t scored since Dec. 21 and has just two shots on goal in the past three games — both of which came in the same game on Jan. 2.

The Blue Jackets enter the contest having earned at least a point in seven of their past 10 games (4-3-3). Most recently, they rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout on Thursday in a game in which they were outshot 41-28.

“That is definitely a lesson, just the belief,” defenseman Jake Bean said. “It’s an 82-game season and we’re learning every night about ourselves. We talk a lot about experience, and that’s one of the experiences. There’s a lot of things that go into that word, but that’s one of them and it’s good for everyone in here to have that under their belt … one time at least.”

Columbus continues to ride with three goalies. Daniil Tarasov, who was in net against the Flyers, and Spencer Martin have alternated each of the past four games. Elvis Merzlikins was the healthy scratch among the trio Thursday but remains the No. 1 netminder.

Second-year forward Kirill Marchenko is tied for fourth on the Blue Jackets with 21 points (13 goals, eight assists), four points shy of his output last season. He’d been enjoying a solid stretch in early December with six goals and eight points over seven games, but has been held without a point since notching a hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 19.

–Field Level Media

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