Every year, there’s some type of virus that makes its way through half of the bodies in the Minnesota Wild locker room. You expect it in January or February. You hope to avoid it when you’re just entering the third week of the season. But with three players missing yesterday’s practice because of sickness, and several others showing symptoms, the Wild made its first call to Houston for reinforcement. Colton Gillies, who never received a promotion last year, will be the first Aero to appear in Minnesota this year. Whether or not the high energy winger gets into the lineup for the first time since April of 2009 remains to be seen, but it seems likely. Chuck Kobasew and Mikko Koivu are the latest players to fall ill.
Gillies should be thankful he didn’t get the call until today. He was able to miss the Wild’s lackluster 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as the ensuing bag skate during Sunday’s practice. Brent Burns and Cal Clutterbuck scored the goals on Saturday, while Matt Cullen and Martin Havlat each notched a pair of assists.
The Canucks snapped a two game losing streak on Sunday by pasting the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-1. Mason Raymond paced the Nucks with two goals and an assist. Mikael Samuelsson also picked up three points (1-2=3), while Andrew Alberts and Ryan Kesler also scored. Cory Schneider filled in for Roberto Luongo and stopped 32 of 33 shots.
Wild vs. Canucks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 8:00 PM. The game can be heard on 830 WCCO AM, or online at Wild.com.
Note to DISH Network Subscribers: You will not be able to see tonight's game on Fox Sports North if you are a DISH Network subscriber. Click here for the Wild's statement on this issue.
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You can still get into the building for tonight’s tilt for only $22. For no additional fees, visit the Xcel Energy Center Box Office. Otherwise, click here to reserve your tickets.
The first of the Year Ten All-Time Team Bobblehead will be given away tonight. A miniature Koivu doll will be given to the first 5000 fans through the gates, which open at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Even Koivu’s Bobblehead is extremely intense. Don’t do anything to make it mad.
Also, Homesmart by Xcel Energy is presenting tonight’s game, and, in conjunction with Bryant Heating & Cooling, will be giving away a furnace package complete with installation, valued at $5,000. For your chance to win, register at the Homesmart tables outside Sections 121 and 113. Two participants will be selected for the second intermission on-ice contest, where they will have to blow money into the net. If you’re not selected, call 1-866-VERY-SMART and ask about their $500 Wild offer.
The Canucks were a popular preseason pick to emerge from Western Conference, and few have changed that opinion despite a rocky start. As the Canucks showed on Sunday, they have a balanced attack that goes beyond the Sedin twins. Raymond continues to get better every year, and Samuelsson appears to be showing last year’s breakout season was the real deal.
One familiar Canuck that Wild fans won’t get to see tonight is Alex Burrows, who has yet to play this season because of a shoulder injury.
We’re four games into the season, and Matt Cullen has posted two points in three of them. With two assists on Saturday night, Cullen has moved into the team scoring lead with six points. His five power play points lead the NHL.
When they answered questions from fans on Wild.com, longtime Wild players Clutterbuck and Nick Schultz didn’t hesitate when asked what team they like beating the most. When asked who he is most looking forward to hitting with a clean check this season, Clutter said, “anyone from Vancouver.” Schultz answered the same question with, “Burrows. Just a guy like that who is a pest, you’d like to lay a good, clean hit on him.”
Considering these two teams face off again on Friday night, the tone for the season series could be set early tonight.
If you were asked what NHL goaltender owns a 3-8-2 record with a 3.26 goals against average and an awful .884 save percentage at Xcel Energy Center, would you ever think to guess Roberto Luongo? Dan Cloutier would be more likely, but it actually is Luongo, the guy who backstopped Canada to a gold medal last year and is a perennial All Star. Luongo has lost more games in St. Paul than any other city.
Head Coach Todd Richards admitted at Monday’s practice that he’s thinking about changing lines. But with several players fighting illness, he might not have a choice. Guillaume Latendresse will be reunited with Martin Havlat on the second line. It sounded as if Koivu would probably be ready to go, but Kobasew’s status is less certain. Richards said it’s likely that Gillies gets into the lineup:
“It would probably be pretty safe to say, if they had to pick anybody to lose, I would have been at the top of a lot of lists.”
-- Todd Richards joking after Monday’s practice which featured a shooting contest from center ice. He didn’t lose, however. Those honors fell to Video Coach P.J. Deluca.
D Andrew Alberts is from Minneapolis and played his high school hockey with Benilde St. Margaret’s. Injured D Keith Ballard is from Baudette and played his college hockey with Minnesota. Raymond played two seasons at Minnesota Duluth.
In 55 games against Minnesota, Henrik Sedin has totaled 36 assists, more than any other opponent.