Nick Schultz hasn’t missed more than three games in a season in any of the previous six years. So after missing three contests after taking a hit to the head, Schultz has used up his quota. He’ll return to the lineup tonight in Columbus as the Minnesota Wild has yet another chance to hop over a team in front of it in the Western Conference standings.
The Wild is looking to rebound from a 4-1 loss at home to the Detroit Red Wings last night. Brent Burns became the first Wild defenseman to score 10 goals twice, but his third period tally came way too late after the Wings had built a 4-0 lead through two periods. Niklas Backstrom took the loss in a 23-save effort.
Like the Wild, the Blue Jackets are coming off a 4-1 loss last night, and like the Wild, their lone goal off the stick of Derick Brassard came well after the game was decided. Mathieu Garon was saddled with the loss after making 21 stops.
Wild at Blue Jackets will be broadcast locally in high definition on Versus at 6:30 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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The first 15,000 people through the gates at Nationwide Arena tonight will receive a Blue Jackets calendar.
Columbus Head Coach Scott Arniel took it easy on his team after last night’s loss in Chicago. Perhaps his team was fragile enough after he blasted them following a 7-3 drubbing at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks. The Blue Jackets haven’t found consistency, and a big reason for that has been Rick Nash and his four-game pointless streak. Nash, who scored in the last meeting between these two clubs, leads the Jackets with 17 goals. But his 26 total points put him in 59th place in the League, far behind where a player of his caliber should be.
Fortunately for Burns, December contains three more games, because he’s been dynamic all month. His nine points (4-5=9) in 11 games put him in a tie for fifth among defensemen scoring in the month. He’s had big success against Columbus this year, scoring three goals in two games against them.
With a win, the Wild can erase the memory of last night’s game, but more importantly, can continue its slow and steady climb up the standings in the Western Conference.
It’s not a coincidence that the Blue Jackets are the team that Brad Staubitz returns against. He hasn’t played since December 16, but Columbus is a physical team with one of the most willing fighters in the NHL in Jared Boll. A bout between these two almost seems like a foregone conclusion.
Todd Richards said he is going to get Staubitz back into the lineup. That means someone comes out, possibly Patrick O’Sullivan: