There’s no time to think about yesterday, jet lag or heavy legs. The Minnesota Wild squares off against the team with the best record in the National Hockey League, the St. Louis Blues. It is the fourth meeting between Central Division rivals, with the Blues holding three wins, the most recent in a shootout.
After last night’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the Wild held an optional skate this morning in St. Louis. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo will not speak to the media until this afternoon, so there are a number of unanswered questions regarding the club’s lineup tonight.
Minnesota only has six healthy defensemen, so there will be no changes on the blue line. We’ll have to wait to see if there are any lineup changes amongst the forwards.
Yesterday, Darcy Kuemper was relieved at the start of the third period after allowing three goals on 12 shots. In relief, Ilya Bryzgalov gave up two goals on seven shots. While Yeo didn’t name a starter, after last night’s game in the post-game press conference he sounded like he wants Kuemper to respond, whether that is tonight or another contest, remains to be seen.
UPDATED: Kuemper will get the start in net tonight. Yeo spoke with the young goaltender last night after the game.
"It's an opportunity for him to bounce back," Yeo said. "An opportunity for him to respond. He's proven that he can do that."
Yeo also said that he won't make any changes amongst the forwards.
In its last two outings, Minnesota has outshot opponents, 56 to 35. However, yesterday the club was unable to take advantage of its opportunities offensively, especially on the power play. The Wild was unable to score on four chances. The team will need to ramp things up on the man advantage against the Blues, one of the better penalty killing teams in the league. St. Louis ranks fourth in the NHL in penalty kill percentage at 85.6.
On the other end of the special teams spectrum, Minnesota has to tighten things up while shorthanded. Minnesota has allowed a power play goal in three of the last four games and is ranked 27th (79.4 percent) in the NHL.
Minnesota lost to former Northwest Division foe, the Vancouver Canucks, 5-2, giving the Canucks a glimmer of hope for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Scoring for the Wild were Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter.
The Blues closed out a four-game road trip on Tuesday with a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. David Backes paced the team with a hat trick.
Meet the Notes
After scoring a career-worst six goals in 48 games last season, Backes has 27 goals, four off his career-high of 31, which he reached twice, in 2008-09 and 2010-11.
Blues left wing Alexander Steen has four points (1-3=4) in the past two games. He was a plus-4 against Toronto.
If You’re Going
US Paralympic Sled Hockey Team goaltender, Steve Cash, who led the team to the Gold Medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, will drop the ceremonial opening puck.
The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Charlie Coyle has scored a goal in three-consecutive games.
Probable Wild Lineup
There will be no lineup changes:
The blue line will stay the same:
Between the Pipes
We won’t know the starter until this afternoon, but last night Yeo mentioned Kuemper’s ability to bounce back after a tough start. He’s never faced the Blues. Bryzgalov is 6-11-2 with a 3.14 GAA, .895 SV% and two shutouts in 19 games (18 starts) against St. Louis.
Yeo Quote of the Day
Last game (in Detroit on Sunday) it was great, and it’s been scoring goals for us. So, this is one game. I’ll say this one game it was not good, but it hasn’t been this way.
- Yeo on team’s power play against Vancouver
View From The Press Box
Forwards Justin Fontaine, Mike Rupp and Stephane Veilleux. Defenseman Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner both have lower-body injuries. Defenseman Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner both have lower-body injuries.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
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). TJ Oshie played high school hockey in Warroad.
The Wild finishes its 12th of 13 sets of back-to-back games this season. Minnesota is 5-4-2 on the second night of action, going 3-9-0 on the first night.
Wild at Blues will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North and FOX Sports Wisconsin with a start time at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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