With Devin Setoguchi out and Cal Clutterbuck banged up, the Minnesota Wild recalled forward Jeff Taffe from the Houston Aeros today. Taffe, who ranks third on the Aeros in scoring with five goals and 12 assists, will join the team in Los Angeles today prior to taking on the Kings. The former Gopher’s presence brings the total number of Minnesotans on the Wild’s current roster to four, including Matt Cullen, Mike Lundin and Nate Prosser.
The Wild has dealt well with injuries so far this season, and that continued on Tuesday in a 2-1 win over San Jose. Despite losing starting goaltender Josh Harding just over a minute into the game and Setoguchi leaving after the first, the Wild rode a 34-save performance by Matt Hackett in his NHL debut. His flawless performance held the one-goal lead built on late first period goals by Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
The Kings lost for the second straight game on Tuesday to the Anaheim Ducks after failing to score more than two goals for the sixth straight game. Slava Voynov and Justin Williams scored the goals for the Kings, but a Bobby Ryan goal in the final minute of regulation gave the Ducks the win. Jonathan Quick took the loss in a 24-save effort.
Wild at Kings will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 9:30 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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Los Angeles doesn’t have as many outdoor rinks as the State of Hockey, but it does have at least one. The L.A. Live rink outside STAPLES Center is open for the holiday season and fans can get a pregame skate in prior to tonight’s game.
Kings head coach Terry Murray is just one win from his 500th career NHL victory, but if he doesn’t get it soon, he might not be getting it with the Kings. Murray is under heavy scrutiny this season with a highly touted roster that has yet to get it in gear. Beyond Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards, who is now out with a concussion, the Kings haven’t had enough offensive contributors.
In order for the Kings to rebound, Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner are going to have to up their offensive contributions.
Since November 17, Koivu is ranked tied for sixth in scoring with four goals and nine assists over a 10-game span. It was Koivu who swung the momentum in the first period on Tuesday after the Sharks had pumped 16 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes. He then found an open Bouchard with a pinpoint pass for a power play goal that stood as the game-winner.
Hackett showed he can come into an NHL game under duress and perform brilliantly. Today, he'll get the chance to fully prepare himself. He'll get the start tonight while Niklas Backstrom will serve as the backup.
Setoguchi is out and it looks like Clutterbuck will be joining him tonight. The Wild has the option of dressing seven defensemen instead of inserting Taffe into the lineup, but that is unlikely. If Taffe skates, he might get a chance to work on the top line with Koivu and Dany Heatley. However, don't be surprised if the Wild change it up during the game.
With Setoguchi and Clutterbuck out tonight, the forward lines will likely look like this:
While the forward lines are in flux, the defensive group will remain the same unless Nate Prosser is added as the seventh D-man:
Hackett gets his first NHL start tonight.
If Taffe is in, Prosser is likely the lone healthy scratch.
Niklas Backstrom again practiced today and appears ready to go. Setoguchi (lower body) is out and was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Tuesday. Harding (upper body) is day-to-day but will not dress tonight. Clutterbuck (lower body) looks to be out tonight. Justin Falk (upper body) was placed on injured reserve on Saturday and did not travel with the team. Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and Marek Zidlicky (concussion) are out indefinitely.
"We work hard. And sometimes I think it’s good to mix a little fun in as well.”