The Wild looks to start off 2012 with a win against Northwest Division rival, the Vancouver Canucks. It is the fourth time these two teams have met (third and final time in Vancouver) with the Wild holding a 1-1-1 record against the Canucks this season. Minnesota will get a boost in the lineup tonight from Devin Setoguchi and Casey Wellman, who were both activated off of Injured Reserve yesterday, and are expected to play tonight. The return of Setoguchi and Wellman will hopefully spark some much-needed offense to a team that struggled scoring at the end of 2011. Both have games that are predicated around speed and skill, two things that you can never have too much of. If you’re not joining the team in Vancouver, you can watch tonight’s Wild broadcast on Fox Sports North Plus.
The Minnesota Wild scored first against the Phoenix Coyotes, but was unable to maintain the lead, losing 4-2 at Xcel Energy Center on New Year’s Eve. Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored first, and Matt Cullen scored on a penalty shot and assisted on Bouchard’s goal. Niklas Backstrom stopped 26 of 29 shots in the loss.
The Canucks suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Jannik Hansen scored his career-high 12th goal in the first period, and Cody Hodgson scored in the third period for the Canucks. Roberto Luongo made 33 saves during the game, but couldn’t stop Michal Handzus, who scored the only goal in the shootout.
Wild at Canucks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North Plus with a start time at 9:00 PM. The Fox Sports North Plus channel guide can be found here. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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Pick up your official game night program from one of the seven youth teams selected to distribute the program. The boys and girls teams between the ages of 10 and 15 distribute game programs as a fundraiser for their teams.
Ryan Kesler and Alexander Edler have a very respectable 28 points apiece. They’re still 16 points behind Daniel, the lower scoring of the Sedin Twins. Henrick is tied for the NHL lead in points, with 46.
Roberto Luongo hasn’t faired well against the Wild. Luongo is 15-14-5 with a 2.80 goal against average and a .900 save percentage in 34 starts.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard has scored four goals in the last six games, including a goal in each of the last two contests. Bouchard has 29 career points (6-23=29) in 42 contests against Vancouver.
The return of Setoguchi and Wellman will bring a lot of speed to the Wild lineup. Hopefully that speed will create offensive chances and also some power play opportunities. The Wild has only been on the man advantage twice in the last two games and, against the Canucks, would like to improve on that number.
The Wild had two solid days of practice before heading to Vancouver and were able to work on its system play. Head Coach Mike Yeo said that its attention to detail was something that the team was lacking at the end of 2011. Look for the Wild to sure up its neutral and defensive zone play, two areas that made the Wild so difficult to play against earlier this season.
With Setoguchi and Wellman activated from IR, they will both join the lineup tonight:
“We have to scratch and claw for everything we get.”
- Mike Yeo on the mentality the Wild has to take into games
D Andrew Alberts (Minneapolis) and D Keith Ballard (Baudette) are Minnesota natives…Ballard played three seasons at the University of Minnesota (2001-04)… C Andrew Ebbett appeared in 49 games with Minnesota in 2009-10.
The Wild is 17-3-2 when not allowing a PPG and 4-10-6 when allowing one or more.