When the Houston Aeros begin the American Hockey League playoffs next week, they’ll be able to say they’ve got plenty of NHL experience on the roster. Yet another player is on his way from Texas to join the Minnesota Wild and make his NHL debut tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. Defenseman Drew Bagnall was recalled this morning while fellow defenseman Justin Falk has been reassigned to the Aeros. Bagnall has appeared in 72 games with the Aeros this season, posting two assists and a +5 rating.
The Wild closes out the road portion of its regular-season schedule today, a day after getting shut out by the Vancouver Canucks, 5-0. Niklas Backstrom took the loss after stopping eight shots and getting pulled in favor of Jose Theodore, who is expected to start tonight.
The Oilers appear primed to land the number one overall draft pick for the second season in a row. Coming off back-to-back wins over the Canucks, the Oilers were thumped by the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, 6-1. Magnus Paajarvi tallied the lone Edmonton goal and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 41-of-47 shots in defeat.
Wild at Oilers will be broadcast locally in high definition on KSTC-TV Channel 45 at 8:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM or online at Wild.com.
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Don’t be one of those late-arriving folks to the game tonight. You won’t want to miss famed anthem singer Paul Lorieau deliver his final swan song after 30 years as the Oilers anthem singer.
The National Hockey League employs a lottery system for the NHL Entry Draft order, but in most years, there is very little if any shuffling from how the teams finish. That means that in all likelihood, the Oilers brass will take the stage at Xcel Energy Center and announce the first overall pick for the second straight year.
Last June, the team nabbed Taylor Hall, who was enjoying a stellar rookie season before going down with a season-ending leg injury. This summer, the consensus seems to be that Edmonton will scoop up Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson (teammate of Wild prospect Mikko Lehtonen) to add a top-tier defender to a soon-to-be potent lineup headlined by Hall, Joran Eberle, Linus Omark and Paajarvi.
Carson McMillan is no longer shooting 100% from the field as he was after scoring on his only shot in Detroit on Sunday. But he did put forth another impressive performance last night in Vancouver. In just over 10 minutes of ice time, he put three shots on goal and was one of only three players that didn’t have a minus rating on the night.
The final road game of the season comes tonight, with the Wild having a chance to win its 20th road game for the first time in franchise history.
Bagnall very nearly made the final cut onto the Wild roster this season, and he was taken to Finland with the team. Unfortunately for the former Hobey Baker Award finalist at St. Lawrence University, he didn’t get into the lineup in Helsinki, and was assigned to Houston upon the team’s return to North America.
It seemed like Bagnall would be one of the first recalls of the season, but the rugged defenseman has had to be patient. Tonight, he’ll get his chance to bring the physical presence he’s provided the Aeros all season.
Jed Ortmeyer was a last-minute recall yesterday due to Cal Clutterbuck falling ill. It’s likely that Clutterbuck will be able to return tonight:
“I liked Carson’s game. I thought he did a good job on the forecheck, winning battles. Speed, pretty responsible in his own zone. I thought he showed pretty well.”
-- Todd Richards on another strong performance by McMillan, one of the many rookies in the lineup last night.
D Taylor Chorney was born in Thunder Bay, but grew up in Hastings…LW Ryan Jones was drafted by the Wild in the fourth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft…C Chris VandeVelde was a star player for the Moorhead Spuds…D Tom Gilbert was a standout for the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars.
The Wild has won all five games against Edmonton this season, and has a chance to sweep the season series for the first time ever.