The Minnesota Wild looks to ring in the New Year taking the advice of the song synonymous with the celebration of the calendar turn. The New Year’s Eve staple Auld Lange Syne begins, “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon.” Well, the Wild would be well to not think about its current five-game slide as the club hosts Central Division opponent, the St. Louis Blues.
It will be a tall task for Minnesota, trying to give the Blues its first loss against a Central foe (12-0-1). The Wild lost its only regular season meeting in St. Louis, 3-0 on Nov. 25. That was also the game that Wild forward Zach Parise was injured when he took a slap shot to the foot. The club is 5-11-1 since that loss.
Tonight’s game is the second of a four-game home stand. Heading into 2014, points at Xcel Energy Center are at a premium. The Wild’s 14-4-2 record in Saint Paul, ranks second to only St. Louis for most home wins in the Western Conference.
With no timetable on Parise’s return for Injured Reserve, Minnesota will continue to look to the captain, Mikko Koivu, for leadership. The center tallied two assists Sunday to earn his 99th career multi-point game. With his first assist of the game, he became the player in franchise history to register 300 assists. Minnesota’s captain leads the team in points (8-22=30) in 41 games this season, including 22 points (7-15=22) in the last 26 games.
Yesterday, the team recalled defenseman Jonathon Blum from Iowa, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate. However, Blum is not expected to make his Wild debut tonight.
On Sunday, Minnesota suffered a tough loss at home against the New York Islanders, 5-4. The Wild jumped out to a three-goal lead on tallies from Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin and Nino Niederrieter. Justin Fontaine added a goal in the third and Josh Harding made 26 saves in the loss.
The Blues are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars. Jaden Schwartz and Minnesota native TJ Oshie scored in regulation and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk notched the overtime winner. Brian Elliott made 28 saves for the win.
Meet the Notes
The Blues have points in six consecutive road games (4-0-2). The club also has the best goal differential in the NHL at plus-45.
Former Colorado College Tiger, Jaden Schwartz, has scored a goal in five straight games and has already established new career highs in goals (13), assists (15) and points (28) in 36 games this season. His 13 goals are tied for third-most on the Blues and his plus-18 is also a team high. Goaltender Brian Elliott is expected to get the nod in net.
If You’re Going
Tonight is another installment of Hat Trick BINGOAL presented by Innovative Office Solutions. It’s just like BINGO, but Wild-related plays will fill the spaces. All fans will receive a BINGOAL card for a chance to win great prizes.
Justin Fontaine has his first goal and point streak of his career after netting a goal in each of the last two games. His eight goals this season are T-7th amongst all NHL rookies, and he has 11 points (8-3=11) in 35 games this season, including three points (2-1=3) in his last four contests.
Probable Wild Lineup
The lines will remain the same:
The blue line will stand pat:
Between the Pipes
Goaltender Josh Harding will get his second-straight start. He leads the NHL in GAA (1.64), ranks fifth in SV% (.934), ranks T-2nd in shutouts (3), and fifth in wins (18-6-3), allowing two goals or less in 23-of-28 games this season.
Yeo Quote of the Day
All good teams go through these things, but they react the right way and get better because of it. So, let's look at it as an opportunity and a challenge. Competitors welcome challenges, so here's our challenge and let's welcome it.
- Yeo on getting out of the team's current funk
View From the Press Box
Zenon Konopka and Blum will be the healthy scratches.
Parise and Stoner are on Injured Reserve with lower-body injuries.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
Blues captain David Backes is a native of Minneapolis and played three seasons at Minnesota State Mankato (2003-06). D Jordan Leopold was born in Golden Valley and played four seasons with the University of Minnesota (1998- 2002). RW T.J. Oshie played high school hockey in Warroad.
Minnesota will host a New Year’s Eve game at Xcel Energy Center for the eighth consecutive year and 10th time in team history. The Wild is 5-4-0 on home ice in those games and looks to snap a three-game losing streak, last topping San Jose, 3-2, on Dec. 31, 2008.
Wild vs. St. Louis Blues will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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