The first time the Wild met the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota was on a seven-game win streak. The game was a hotly contested and physical affair with the Jets narrowly edging out a 2-1 victory. Since that game, the Wild has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Tonight marks a chance for Minnesota to bust out of a five-game skid against the team that derailed its franchise-best winning streak earlier this season.
It looks the Wild might get a much-needed boost at forward tonight. Cal Clutterbuck skated at morning practice and is considered a game-time after missing the last game with a charley horse.
On Tuesday, the Wild jumped out to an early lead against the Anaheim Ducks on a Dany Heatley power play goal. However, the Ducks would score two third-period goals and claim a 2-1 win. It was Heatley’s team-leading 19th goal on the year. Josh Harding made 25 saves in the losing effort.
The Jets lost at home the New York Islanders on Tuesday, 3-1. Chris Thorburn scored a first period goal for Winnipeg, but the Jets couldn’t muster any more offense despite outshooting the Islanders, 38-25.
Wild vs. Jets 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.
Click here to receive Minnesota Wild broadcast alerts/game day previews each Wild Game day.
The Jets are expected to bring a cavalcade of fans from Winnipeg down across the boarder and into the State of Hockey, so it will be of the utmost importance for Wild fans to be vocal in support of the home team. Sure, you should show them some Minnesota Nice if they can’t find their seats or they would like to know where the best local watering hole is, but, during the action, bring your vocal chords to drown out any attempts of getting a “Go Jets, go!” chant started.
Winnipeg is looking for a playoff spot in its first season after relocating from Atlanta. The Jets are currently in the 10th spot in the East and six points out of the eight seed.
Two of the team’s brightest stars are locals. Forward Blake Wheeler was a standout at Breck and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien went to Roseau.
The Wild’s power play has started to gain a little momentum, scoring on the man advantage in two of its last three games. Unfortunately, that has accounted for 75 percent of the team’s goal total during that period. Since the return of Mikko Koivu, the team’s power play has looked much better and needs to continue to score if Minnesota is going to get back into playoff contention.
Dany Heatley scored the Wild's power play goal on Tuesday and the winger has been the team's most consistent source of offense of late. He has 10 points in the last nine games (6-4=10) and leads the team in points (40) and goals (19).
Although the Wild and Jets only have met once, it was one of the most exciting games of the season and there was a lot of bad blood between the two squads.
After the game, Head Coach Mike Yeo had this to say: “You could see the two teams don’t like each other. I’m sure the next one (tonight) will be very interesting as well. They seem to want to get involved in a lot of scrums after the whistle, so the next time we play against them, I’m anticipating a pretty exciting game as well.”
If the game in Winnipeg was any indication, fans should be in for a treat tonight.
Minnesota recalled forwards Jeff Taffe and Cody Almond from Houston yesterday because Clutterbuck (charley horse) is a game-time decision and Carson McMillan (lower body) was placed on Injured Reserve. Almond will be in tonight and Taffe might see action depending on Clutterbuck's status. Yeo said that he wants called-up players to have an impact on the ice and not just serve as a warm body, and both Taffe and Almond have the potential for a positive impact with the club.
Erik Christensen will have a couple of new wingers, but the rest of the lineup will remain the same:
“We want people that want to go to war for each other, that’s for sure. We have to believe in ourselves, and we have to play for each other. We have to stick together and we have to want to fight through this together. So we need everybody all in.”
-- Mike Yeo on players in the lineup
Byfuglien is a native of Minneapolis and Wheeler hails from Plymouth and went to the University of Minnesota. Mark Stuart is from Rochester.
St. Paul and Winnipeg are located 391 miles from each other, making the Jets the Wild’s closest geographical rival.