Minnesota looks to bounce back from a 5-2 defeat in Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the opener of a three-game road trip. The Wild, which ends the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule by completing the back-to-back tomorrow in Philadelphia, faces a Rangers team in need of a victory.
Updated: Mikael Granlund is expected to make his return to the lineup tonight. Granlund has missed 11 games after he was placed on Injured Reserve on Nov. 28 with an upper body injury after he left the Wild’s Nov. 27 tilt with the Coyotes just over 20 seconds into his first shift. Yeo said he wants to see Granlund play with confidence and bring his game.
The Rangers have the second-worst home record in the Eastern Conference (6-10-2), including a 1-4-2 mark on a current season-long nine-game home stand. The lone victory was a 4-3 shootout decision over Calgary. The Rangers haven’t won in regulation at home since Nov. 30, when knocking off the Vancouver Canucks and former head coach John Tortorella.
It’s a rare trip to Manhattan for the Wild, which hasn’t played here since a 3-1 win on March 3, 2011. This is also just the Wild’s third trip to MSG since the 2005-06 season. Minnesota will take its first train trip in recent memory after the game as it heads to Philadelphia.
Meet the Rangers
New York has goals from 18 different players, though none have reached double digits. But the well-balanced Rangers do have nine players with between six and nine tallies.
Brad Richards leads New York in goals (9) and points (26). Just one Ranger, Chris Kreider at plus-9, is above the break-even point in plus-minus.
Henrik Lundqvist has been the starter in each of the Rangers’ first seven games of the nine-game home stand. He’s 1-4-2 with a 3.79 GAA and a .859 SV%, allowing at least three goals in each outing.
If You’re Going
The World’s Most Famous Arena got a very famous, and very expensive, facelift. The $1 billion “transformation” spanned three years, even during NHL and NBA seasons. Included in the renovation was extra club seating, including a pair of catwalks over the ice (one that serves as the press box), and a new scoreboard.
The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Ryan Suter holds a Wild season-high five-game assist streak (5), his longest assist streak since a six-game run (7) with Nashville Dec. 11-22, 2010. His 20 assists this season are T-1st on the Wild and rank T-6th amongst all NHL defensemen.
Mikael Granlund is returning to the lineup tonight:
The defense will stay the same:
Between the Pipes
Niklas Backstrom is expected to start back-to-back games for the first time since late November. He has a .896 save percentage in 13 appearances.
Yeo Quote of the Day
There's going to be more than a few guys that I grab here in the next day or so before the game and say "Look, we need to step up and create some offense."
- Yeo on trying to get the offense going
View from the Press Box
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
Derek Stepan hails from Hastings. Ryan McDonagh is from St. Paul and attended Cretin-Derham Hall. Benoit Pouliot was the Wild’s first-round pick in 2004 and played part of four seasons with Minnesota. Dominic Moore skated 40 games over parts of two seasons with the Wild (2006-08). Justin Falk was drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round in 2007 and saw action in 108 games over four seasons. Darroll Powe skated in 90 games with Minnesota (2011-13).
Defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Clayton Stoner are each set to skate in their 200th NHL games. Spurgeon has totaled 61 points (13-48=61) and 22 PIM in his NHL career spanning four seasons — all with Minnesota — including 11 points (1-10=11) and 10 PIM this season. Stoner has recorded 29 points (3-26=29) and 247 PIM in his NHL career, parts of five seasons with Minnesota, including three assists and 35 PIM this season.
Wild at New York will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 6:30 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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