GAMEDAY: Wild vs. Predators
Minnesota Wild (17-14-5: 39 points, 13th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division) vs. Nashville Predators (17-13-6: 40 points, 12th in Western Conference, 5th in Central Division)
Put out an immediate APB for the culprit who broke a mirror, walked under a ladder or spilled the salt in a roadside diner and failed to toss some salt over his or her right shoulder. As the Wild has rolled to a 4-1-1 record over the last six games, the last thing the team needed was bad luck, visiting in the transparent form of the injury bug. But after a feel-good home victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, the Wild has had to deal with the loss of Marek Zidlicky
to a shoulder injury, a dinged up Cal Clutterbuck
and a nasty collision in practice yesterday that left Niklas Backstrom
clutching his leg in pain. Fortunately, Clutterbuck and Backstrom appear to be ready and willing for tonight’s game against Nashville. Zidlicky will not play, and the team recalled Jared Spurgeon
yesterday to replace him.
The Wild matched the Sharks punch-for-punch on Wednesday before pumping in three third-period goals and pulling out a 5-3, come-from-behind victory. Kyle Brodziak
paced the club with two goals, while Mikko Koivu
, Chuck Kobasew
and Brent Burns
also scored. Martin Havlat
chipped in with two assists and Backstrom took a well-earned win after making 29 stops.
The Predators, who currently sit just one point ahead of the Wild in the West, dropped their fifth straight contest on Tuesday against Dallas. Colin Wilson gave Nashville a 2-1 lead by scoring twice, but Dallas rallied with three unanswered goals on Pekka Rinne who took the loss.
Traditionalists insist that New Year’s Eve must include a nice dinner. We’ve got your back. Why not purchase a couple tickets
on the Treasure Island Club Level, and enjoy a lovely pregame dinner at Headwaters Restaurant?
Wild vs. Predators will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 5:00 PM. The game can be heard on BOB/KBGY FM, or online at Wild.com.
to receive Minnesota Wild broadcast alerts/game day previews each Wild Game day.
Go figure, the weather is supposed to be a little testy tonight just as fans are making their way to downtown St. Paul. With that in mind, make sure you make arrangements to arrive early. And, if you plan on celebrating the start of a new decade with some of the bubbly, make sure you find one of those underrated heroes known as designated drivers.
Smashville is turning into Crashville as the Predators have followed up a five game win streak with five straight losses. Over its current skid, the Preds have averaged one goal per game. Wilson’s two goals on Tuesday gave Nashville its first multiple goal game since December 17 in a 3-2 win over New Jersey.
Scoring wasn’t supposed to be the strength as the team is focused on defense with stalwarts like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. But you can’t win if you don’t score, and that’s why the prehistoric cats put in a claim on Marek Svatos, a two-time 25-goal scorer.
Let’s see, Kobasew filled this space on Wednesday and Havlat seems to fill it every other day. So let’s give some love to Nick Schultz
, who doesn’t get a lot of mention in the “Who’s Hot?” talk. Schultz has registered an assist in each of the last three games, tying the longest point streak of his career.
LWZ – Life Without Zid – starts tonight. The former Predator is an every situation player for the Wild, and has been one of the steadiest players all season. No timeline has been established for his return, but it’s expected to be a couple weeks, which will be a crucial stretch as Minnesota aims to climb the standings.
Filling in for Zidlicky primarily will be Spurgeon. While he probably won’t get the minutes on the power play and penalty kill that Zidlicky saw, he will see increased time. While Spurgeon has shown he fits right in at the NHL level, his time up here hasn't focused on his offensive ability. Zid’s absence could give him the opportunity to add that to his NHL repertoire.
Clutterbuck will be a gametime decision. If he can’t go, Patrick O’Sullivan gets back in the lineup. O’Sullivan may get into the lineup anyway:
We’ll see if Spurgeon gets that chance to fill in for Zidlicky. Clayton Stoner
also could get into the lineup tonight:
Backstrom seems to be fine after yesterday’s collision, considering he took shots at today’s optional skate. He’ll get the start tonight.
The scratches won’t be known until slightly before puck drop. The guesses are Stoner and Brad Staubitz
(abdominal) and Zidlicky are out. Clutterbuck is questionable and Backstrom (lower body) is probable.
"That’s how you learn a lot of times."
-- Richards on Scandella’s unfortunate collision with Backstrom at Thursday’s practice
RW Joel Ward played 11 games with the Wild during the 2006-07 season.
This will be the eighth New Year’s Eve game at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild is 5-2 in those games.