With a new coach, new players and a new system, any stretch of days without games early in the season can be beneficial. The Minnesota Wild just finished a four-day break, which served to provide some rest, but more importantly, a lot of hard work. The club also dealt with its first rash of injuries as Dany Heatley, Guillaume Latendresse and Greg Zanon missed practices this week with groin issues. The good news is that Heatley and Latendresse have both been cleared to play, and both will be in the lineup tonight.
Prior to the break, the Wild picked up three of four possible points on a two game road trip through Western Canada. On Saturday, Minnesota picked up at least a point for the sixth time in eight games with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Devin Setoguchi and Kyle Brodziak tallied for the Wild and Niklas Backstrom turned aside 29 of 32 shots.
The Ducks opened up a seven-game road trip on Tuesday with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Teemu Selanne scored his 640th NHL goal to tie Dave Andreychuk for 13th on the all-time goal scoring list. Selanne also picked up an assist on Ryan Getzlaf’s tally.
There are tickets remaining in the Upper Level End Zones for tonight's game, which can be had for only $22 each. Get in the door by clicking here.
Wild vs. Ducks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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As the temperatures begin to drop here in the State of Hockey, you’re going to need some clothing to protect your neck and lower facial areas. We’ve got you covered tonight as all fans entering the building will receive a Wild scarf. Now, you can use that money in your scarf budget and put it towards a new set of choppers.
While the Ducks lineup – especially the big three of Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Getzlaf – is fearsome, the sledding has been rough for them at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild has won five straight home games against the Ducks, outscoring them 19-9 in those games. This comes despite Anaheim scoring first in the last four contests.
Still, any team boasting the reigning MVP should not be toyed with. Perry has tallied 23 points (13-10=23) in 22 games against Minnesota, which is his highest total against any Northwest Division foe.
After setting up Heatley’s last second heroics on Thursday in Edmonton, Setoguchi followed with a spectacular goal in Vancouver. He now owns a point in each of the last two games, and tonight, he’s expected to bring his talents to a line with playmakers Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
The Wild’s top line will have a new look tonight when Cal Clutterbuck saddles up with Mikko Koivu and Heatley. Clutterbuck is not expected to change his game from a high-energy hit machine to a strictly offensive mentality. However, he is a shooter, and Head Coach Mike Yeo wants more shot production coming from his top line.
Perhaps the players that drew the biggest raves in Vancouver’s game was Justin Falk, who sat out the first seven games of the season as a healthy scratch. Falk made his debut in Vancouver and showed steadiness and an ability to make smart plays with the puck. With Zanon still out, Falk will continue to get the chance to impress.
With Latendresse returning, he’ll move to the fourth line for now:
Mike Lundin (back) remains out as he works his way back from injury. Zanon (groin) is also out. Latendresse (groin) and Heatley (groin) are expected to play.
"I don’t really look at them as first line, second line. I don’t like to classify them like that. To me, I don’t think that what the so-called second line does is any less important than what the first line needs to do."
-- Mike Yeo on mixing up the names on the top two lines
Injured D Matt Smaby (Minneapolis) and injured LW Jason Blake (Moorhead) both hail from Minnesota...RW Andrew Gordon was a standout with St. Cloud State...D Kurtis Foster spent four seasons with the Wild and scored his first two NHL goals in his first game with Minnesota.
Tonight’s game will be the Wild’s first of the season against a Pacific Division opponent. Minnesota was 10-8-2 against the Pacific last season.