The Minnesota Wild could get a very big boost on the blue line tonight with the potential return of Marek Zidlicky. The high-powered offensive defenseman has missed the last 21 games with a shoulder injury, but Head Coach Todd Richards said Zidlicky would be a gametime decision tonight when the Wild hosts the Anaheim Ducks.
Zidlicky’s return would be a boost to a team looking to stop a two-game losing streak after a 3-1 loss to Chicago on Wednesday night. Matt Cullen tied the game at 1-1 in the third period, but the Blackhawks tallied the final two markers of the game, including an empty netter. Jose Theodore took the loss in goal; making 34 saves on 36 shots.
The Ducks are coming off a wild 7-6 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, which snapped a four-game win streak. Goals by Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, Toni Lydman, Corey Perry, Lubomir Visnovsky and Bobby Ryan built a 6-5 Anaheim lead in the third period, but Washington’s Alexander Semin struck twice late to stun the Ducks. Curtis McEhlhinney, filling in for the injured Jonas Hiller, gave up all seven goals in the loss.
Tonight’s game is a projected sellout, but there are currently a smattering of pairs available in the lower level and the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Club Level. Click here to browse around.
Wild vs. Ducks 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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HomeSmart from Xcel Energy is giving fans at tonight’s game the chance to win a $600 credit towards a new dryer or several other appliance repair plans. By registering here, you could win the grand prize if former North Stars Brad Maxwell or Jack Carlson can fill an old dryer with pucks during the second intermission.
Prickly Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle lamented his team’s performance on Wednesday night, saying his team got away from the brand of hockey that led them to 14 wins in their previous 18 games. He pointed out that a team that scores six goals should win in the NHL.
The disappointing loss puts a heap of pressure on goaltenders McElhinney and German rookie Timo Pielmeier, who has never played a minute in the NHL. Hiller is expected to miss at least two more games due to lightheadedness. The All-Star keeper had gone 10-3 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in his previous 15 appearances.
After going the first 20 games of his NHL career without a point, Jared Spurgeon has become a playmaking machine. He has an assist in each of the last three games, including a beautiful setup of Cullen’s goal in Chicago. He now owns five helpers on the season, all coming in the past eight contests.
What will Zidlicky’s possible return do to a defensive group that has been stellar over the last month? Richards hinted at playing seven defensemen to let Zidlicky ease his way into the lineup, if he is in fact labeled ready to go by team doctors.
Jarkko Ruutu is one of the top five Wild villains of all time, but we’ve lost touch with the rash-like pest since his five-year stint in the Eastern Conference with Pittsburgh and Ottawa began. Tonight, Ruutu will make his Anaheim Ducks debut, and we’ll get the pleasure of seeing him twice over the next week. Of course, in his Vancouver years, Ruutu never had the pleasure of dealing with Cal Clutterbuck. That is a confrontation waiting to happen, and worth waiting for.
If the Wild goes with seven defensemen, Brad Staubitz likely comes out among the forwards:
"I really like the way he competes defensively. He’d be a huge pickup for us, getting him back healthy and playing.”
-- Todd Richards on the potential return of Zidlicky
LW Jason Blake is from Moorhead and played his high school hockey with the Spuds. RW Dan Sexton is from Apple Valley and played with the Eagles. D Andy Sutton was a member of the Wild’s inaugural team and played 88 total games in a Wild uniform.
In the battle of Koivu brothers, the younger Mikko holds a slight edge over his older sibling, Saku. In the eight previous meetings, Mikko has recorded six points on three goals and three assists, while Saku’s notched a goal and four helpers.