The Minnesota Wild bolstered its defensive depth today by recalling rookie Marco Scandella from the Houston Aeros. The highly touted blueliner had not yet arrived in time for today’s morning skate, but Head Coach Todd Richards said he will make his NHL debut tonight against the Florida Panthers. Richards did not shed any light on who Scandella would replace in the lineup, saying that would be a gametime decision.
On its current trip through the Southeast, the Wild had been carrying the minimum number of players to field four lines and three defensive pairings. The recall of Scandella, who has posted a goal and seven assists in 14 games this season, gives the Wild one extra defenseman with Marek Zidlicky in Minnesota dealing with a lower body injury.
The Wild has a chance to quickly erase the memory of a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers last night. Antti Miettinen, who returned to action after missing five games with a concussion, picked up the only Wild goal. Niklas Backstrom took the loss after giving up five goals for the first time all season, and more than three goals for just the second time.
The Panthers are coming off a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Michael Frolik let the Cats with a goal and two assists, while Shawn Mathias also picked up a goal and an assist. Tomas Vokoun stopped 32-of-33 shots to earn his 245th career win.
Wild at Panthers will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 6:30 PM. The game can be heard on BOB/KBGY FM, or online at Wild.com.
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The Panthers wives will host their third and final Florida Panthers Food Drive on November 12 against Minnesota so don’t forget to bring your non-perishable food items. All food collected will be donated to the Cooperative Feeding Program in Fort Lauderdale.
The Panthers are continually trying to find those next young stars to help the franchise return to its early glory years. It’s hoping that the nucleus will be the team’s current scoring leaders – David Booth and Michael Frolik. Frolik, who has scored a goal in his last three games, is currently under the guidance of his Czech countryman, Radek Dvorak. Dvorak started his long career with the Panthers during their run to the Cup Finals. After a detour, he’s back with the Panthers and tonight will play his 574th game in a Florida uniform, a new record in franchise history.
After a rough outing like last night’s, it’s tough to say anybody in a Wild uniform is burning things up. But Miettinen, who did score the only Minnesota goal last night, also looked like the Wild’s best player. He started the game on the checking line, but moved up to his familiar spot on the top line. His presence there immediately led to the Wild generating their best scoring chances of the night.
The focus will be squarely on Scandella as he gets his first taste of an NHL game. Last year, Scandella was impressive in his final season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had a great showing at the World Junior Championships. He was outstanding at the Wild’s preseason prospect tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. He has begun to thrive with Houston, but now he’s at the highest level, and everyone will be eagerly watching how he handles it.
The Wild defensive corps had been the team’s best surprise through the first month of the season, but that changed last night. There seemed to be holes everywhere, and Richards was certainly displeased. But he assured the media horde at today’s morning skate that the defensive performance would be much improved tonight.
"The players know it. You guys wrote it. They’ve already read it. They know what’s going on and what they didn’t do well. It’s already been talked about. I don’t think you want to beat them up too much with it.”
-- Todd Richards on whether or not he goes over the mistakes of last night in great detail.
D Jason Garrison played his college hockey at Minnesota Duluth.
The Wild is 5-0-2 this season when playing a team that won its last game.