GAMEDAY: Wild vs. Canucks
Minnesota Wild (21-18-5: 47 points, 12th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division) vs. Vancouver Canucks (29-9-6: 64 points, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Northwest Division)
Following today’s clash with the Vancouver Canucks, the Minnesota Wild won’t play another home game for more than two weeks. Four road games are on the horizon, and those will be followed by Brent Burns
making his first appearance at NHL All-Star Weekend. So, the Wild has one more chance to impress the home fans before a long break of home games. Does this sound familiar? Last year, the Wild hosted the Canucks on the Sunday before a two-week Olympic break. Minnesota blasted Vancouver by a 6-2 score. Of course, it’s not exactly the same scenario. This year, the Canucks aren’t finishing a string of eight straight road games. And, they aren’t even being threatened as they whip up on some of the NHL’s best teams.
The Wild won’t be intimidated by the Canucks, who they have dominated at Xcel Energy Center. But the club also dominated their last game and came away with a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. Andrew Brunette
tallied the lone Wild goal, while Anton Khudobin
took the loss in goal while making 14 saves.
The Canucks are coming off a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday night. Daniel Sedin scored his 26th and 27th goals of the season while Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff also scored. Roberto Luongo earned his 21st victory of the season after stopping 25-of-27 shots.
Seats are again limited for tonight’s game, but you can still secure a few good seats on the lower level and Treasure Island Resort and Casino Club level. Click here
to look around.
Wild vs. Canucks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 5:00 PM. The game can be heard on JACK 104.1 FM, or online at Wild.com.
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Puck number eight in the Top Ten Moment Puck series will be handed out to the first 3,500 fans.
The last time the most despised NHL team among Minnesota fans came to town, one of their players went after a fan in the midst of a 6-2 Wild thumping of the Nucks. Since then, Vancouver has rattled off 27 wins and just six regulation losses.
Once again, the Sedin twins are using their telekinetic powers to make opposing defensemen look like mini-mites, and Ryan Kesler has built on his success of last year by tallying 24 goals.
The Wild can't even take solace in the fact that they’ve made Luongo look like he forgets to take his skate guards off at Xcel Energy Center (3-9-2 with a .873 save percentage in St. Paul). Backup Cory Schneider will get tonight’s start, and he’s 2-0-0 against Minnesota with a .956 save percentage.
is the only Wild player with points in the last two games, but a modest point streak doesn’t explain how well he’s played. After a highlight reel goal in Nashville on Tuesday, he followed with a spectacular setup of Brunette’s goal on Friday. From behind the net, Koivu faked a move to one side, then spun a 360 and dished to the front where Brunette buried the chance.
Rick Rypien (on personal leave) doesn’t need to be in the lineup for the Wild and its fans to get riled up about a Canucks visit. The Wild’s 6-2 victory back on October 19 was intense well before he grabbed a fan, and the bad blood between these two teams goes back way before 2010. Things tend to get heated between these two teams, no matter which players make up the roster.
You had to feel for Khudobin on Friday night. The guy’s only other NHL start went so well, you almost expected another spectacular performance. Khudobin wasn’t tested nearly as much as he was in his victory over Philadelphia last season. And when he was, he made most of the saves he should have made. Of course, he allowed one that he, and the rest of us, would like to forget. The best way to do that is to get him back in goal for a shot at redemption. He’ll get that tonight in his second consecutive start.
With 12 forwards available, the Wild will use the same players, but might mix up the combinations in an effort to generate more goals:
took a puck to the head on Friday and suffered a mild concussion. He will not play tonight, which means Cam Barker
gets back in the lineup:
Khudobin will get the start, while Niklas Backstrom
is feeling good enough to back him up.
There won’t be any healthy scratches tonight.
(hip) Guillaume Latendresse
(abdominal), Scandella (concussion) and Marek Zidlicky
(shoulder) are all out. Backstrom (lower body) is available.
"There didn’t seem to be any lips dragging on the ground."
-- Todd Richards to the Star Tribune on his players “holding their heads up” despite a disappointing loss to Colorado
D Andrew Alberts is a Minneapolis native and played his high school hockey at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. D Keith Ballard is from Baudette and helped the Minnesota Gophers to a 2003 National Championship.
Friday’s regulation loss to Colorado was the Wild’s first to a Northwest Division opponent at home this season. The Wild is now 4-1-1 against divisional foes at Xcel Energy Center.