The last time we saw a St. Louis Blues player on the Xcel Energy Center ice, it was bloodied Minnesota native David Backes, who had just been pummeled in a fight with the Minnesota Wild’s Clayton Stoner. The brawl came after an emotional back-to-back series in which the Wild won two wins, including that rough-and-tumble contest in St. Paul that closed out Hockey Day Minnesota, 2011.
The Wild is hoping to find that same kind of fight and emotion as it looks to snap a winless streak that stretched to seven after a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Niklas Backstrom took the loss for the Wild, which outshot the Leafs, 29-17.
The Blues were on the winning end of a shutout on Thursday, blanking the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0. T.J. Oshie, Matt D’Agostini, Chris Steward and Adam Cracknell accounted for the offense while Jaroslav Halak had to stop just 12 shots to earn his sixth shutout of the season.
Tickets are available for tonight's tilt. Pick your seat by using the interactive seat map to try out a new location within the arena. Click here to work your magic.
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.
Click here to receive Minnesota Wild broadcast alerts/game day previews each Wild Game day.
Tonight is Cully’s Kids Night at Xcel Energy Center, honoring Matt Cullen’s Foundation that provides financial resources to organizations that support children’s health care needs with an emphasis on cancer. Cully’s Kids will be set up outside Section 113 tonight, and fans will have the opportunity to buy T-Shirts and apparel for a great cause.
The Blues aren’t going to make the playoffs this season, and they were off yesterday. But there’s a good chance St. Louis fans are feeling pretty good this morning if they attended last night’s NCAA West Regional at Scottrade Center. St. Loius’ 2010 first round pick Jaden Schwartz of Colorado College helped lead a lopsided upset of Boston College, the defending National champs. Schwartz picked up two goals and added two assists in an 8-4 triumph.
St. Louis could use a goal scorer like the 18-year-old Schwartz, who likely isn’t long for college hockey. The Blues aren’t short on grit and toughness, but goal scoring continues to be an issue. A player like Schwartz could be a very nice complement to players like Backes and Chris Stewart.
Over the last two games, everybody seems to be looking for some kind of groove. Marek Zidlicky is coming back from injury tonight, and the hope is that he can start to provide some offense from the blueline which has been missing lately.
Winning cures a lot of problems and improves a lot of moods. The Wild needs one of those wins and tonight provides the perfect storm of factors that would lead to one. Minnesota has had three days off. It’s Saturday. There’s bad blood between these two teams. And, winning just makes everybody feel better. After the last two losses and horrible weather, we all need it.
John Madden isn’t playing like he’s ready to miss the postseason for the first time in his career. He’s also not playing like he’s in his late thirties. The wily veteran was flying around the ice on Tuesday, springing for two shorthanded breakawyas, but getting stopped both times.
Madden’s intensity has been apparent in practices as well, when he blocked a shot on Friday and was visibly hobbled. The forward then angrily took his pain and frustration out on his stick and the nearby boards.
Warren Peters was reassigned to Houston on Friday, meaning every available forward will play tonight:
“At the start of the year we were searching for it, and then we got it. Now we have to try and get it back.”
-- Todd Richards on the Wild’s confidence level
RW Backes is from Minneapolis and played his high school hockey at Spring Lake Park before spending three seasons at Minnesota State, Mankato. C Oshie won a state championship with the Warroad Warriors. Philip McRae, the son of former North Star, Basil, was born in Minneapolis.
Minnesota has won four straight home games vs. St. Louis and 11 of the last 13, outscoring the Blues 47-22 (not including shootout goals) since 2/2/04.