Wild TV Special:Happy Holidays!
Wild players wish the Team of 18,000 a Happy Holidays!
The Minnesota Wild gave us a nice early Christmas present on Wednesday by taking down the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1. Tonight, the Wild will be the recipients of a special late holiday treat, being able to stay home for another game while their opponent, the St. Louis Blues, just arrived in St. Paul this morning. This marks just the second time that the Wild has been able to enjoy a home game the day after Christmas, and the first since hosting Detroit in 2001.
The Blues are in a tie for 11th in the standings with the Wild thanks to a hugely successful trip through Western Canada over the past week. For the first time in franchise history, the Blues won three consecutive games in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary by a combined score of 12-4. Patrik Berglund netted the only goal in the last game against Calgary, but the Blues were able to pull out a 2-1 shootout win thanks to a 23-save effort from Chris Mason.
Tonight’s game is near capacity, but fans are encouraged to utilize the Gametime RUSH program. Beginning at game time, a special window will open for the sale of RUSH tickets. Students can get an additional $10 off their tickets. Click here for more information on RUSH tickets.
Wild vs. Blues will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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If You’re Going
The Wild is the first Minnesota sports franchise to offer a 50/50 raffle during home games. Fifty percent of the raffle earnings will be donated to the Minnesota Wild Foundation, while the other 50 (up to $10,000) will go to the raffle winner.
Fans can purchase one ticket for $2, three tickets for $5 and seven tickets for $10. The tickets are available at any of six raffle locations inside the Xcel Energy Center: Section 102, Section 118, C10, C30, Section 206 and Section 217. Tickets will be available from the time the doors open to the end of the second intermission.
Meet The Notes
There are quite a few similarities between the Wild and Blues, other than the same number of points in the Western Conference standings.
Like the Wild, the Blues struggled out of the gates this season, but any team that can rip through Western Canada and pocket three road wins is one to be reckoned with. The Blues have already defeated the Wild once this season, a 3-1 defeat in October.
And, like the Wild, the Blues lack a go-to scorer that is counted upon to provide the big goal. Both teams rely in depth and contributions for everybody. Brunette is the only Wild player with 11 goals this season, and the Blues have only one 10-goal scorer – David Perron. Yet, the Blues have plenty of firepower in Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes. On the back end, Bloomington native Erik Johnson is showing why he was the first Minnesotan ever taken with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft. He’s racked up 17 assists among 21 points.
Since returning from a lower body injury, Owen Nolan has scored a goal in both games he’s played. The grizzled veteran has been a major influence in the locker room this season as the Wild has undergone a coaching transition, but he keeps producing on the ice. Nolan now ranks third on the team with nine goals and has a shot at his 11th 20-goal season.
Showing his soft side, he and his family hosted rookie D Clayton Stoner over the holidays.
Both of these teams have a very real shot at getting into the postseason, but both have work to do. With the standings as tight as your belt after a holiday feast, games like this are crucial to gain points without giving up any.
Keep An Eye On
The line of Andrew Ebbett, Latendresse and Martin Havlat was held off the scoreboard on Wednesday until G-Lat knocked one into an empty net with four seconds left. Still, the trio was the Wild’s best line on Wednesday, especially as the Wild struggled to find themselves early. The “second” line generated a scoring chance in each of their first three shifts.
Probable Wild Line Combos
Look for the same lineup tonight after the Wednesday win:
Backstrom will get the start tonight; while it seems likely that Josh Harding will see action either Monday or Tuesday in California.
View From The Press Box
It looks as though John Scott and James Sheppard will be held out of the lineup tonight.
As of this morning, it doesn’t appear as though any new players have been afflicted by the flu. Petr Sykora continues to get close to returning from a concussion, but he won’t play tonight. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brent Burns are also out with concussions.
Richards’ Quote of the Day
"Eventually there comes a letdown and that's what he's got to guard against. He's got to keep his play elevated."
-- Todd Richards on the fantastic start to Stoner’s NHL career.
Honorary State of Hockey Residents
D Johnson is from Bloomington and played one season for the Minnesota Gophers before heading to the NHL. C Oshie won a Class A state championship with the Warroad Warriors. RW David Backes was born in Minneapolis and played collegiately at Minnesota State, Mankato.
The Wild is 1-2-3 all-time when playing the day after Christmas.