After a humbling 6-0 loss, change isn’t always a bad thing. The Minnesota Wild may look to shake things up tonight by changing things in goal, as well as throughout the lineup as the team kicks off a home-and-home series with the Colorado Avalanche. Yesterday, the team recalled defenseman Steven Kampfer and game-winning goal specialist Chad Rau. Both will be in the lineup, but the big focus will be in the net, where Matt Hackett could make his second NHL start tonight, and his first at Xcel Energy Center.
Hackett is regarded by many as the Wild’s goaltender of the future, but considering how well he’s performed in the NHL this season, him getting a start wouldn’t necessarily be an indication that he’s just getting experience. Hackett is 2-0-0 in his career, and he could be the spark to get the Wild back on track. Head Coach Mike Yeo didn’t tip his hand at today’s morning skate, making it seem likely that Hackett gets the start.
Hackett made his most recent appearance in the Wild’s 6-0 loss in Detroit on Friday night. He didn’t come into the game until the Wings had put six shots past Josh Harding. It was the second time the Wild had been shut out in the last three contests.
The Avs were also humbled in their most recent appearance, getting blitzed by the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, 5-1. Matt Hunwick scored Colorado’s only goal, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere took the loss after stopping 23 of 27 shots.
Wild vs. Avalanche will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 6:00 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 ninth collect-and-win trading card will be given away at tonight’s game. The featured player will be Matt Cullen, which is fitting because after tonight’s game, the Wild will turn Xcel Energy Center over to the Minnesota high school teams, including his alma mater, Moorhead.
There’s a lot of talk about the Edmonton Oilers and how good they’ll be when their young players develop. For whatever reason, we don’t hear that as much about the Avalanche, which has the youngest roster in the NHL. Prior to this season, the Avs have already boasted young talent with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. Now, they have the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year in Gabriel Landeskog, who appears to be the type of player you can build a team around for years.
Hackett hasn’t exactly had the chance to put a streak together, but he has looked like he’s been on a hot streak every time he’s been called upon. The only two goals he’s allowed in the NHL came in a 4-2 win over Los Angeles back in December. In his other four relief appearances, he’s shut the door completely and now boasts a 0.63 goals against average and a .980 save percentage.
By now, the Wild is used to dealing with injuries and callups from Houston. Tonight, there will be another Wild debut with Kampfer playing alongside fellow trade deadline acquisition, Tom Gilbert. Both players were brought in for their skating and puck-moving abilities and they’ll have a chance to showcase those attributes together tonight.
One of the most popular highlight clips in Wild history shows Stephane Veilleux in the penalty box in a shouting match with Avs agitator Cody McLeod during the 2008 playoffs. Veilleux was shown mocking McLeod’s lack of teeth, as well as his overall lack of class.
Since coming back to the Wild, Veilleux has been willing to do anything to pump up his new teammates. You can be sure he’s well aware of what’s happened this year, which includes McLeod punching Clayton Stoner while he was on the ice in the most recent meeting.
With Kampfer making his debut, Kurtis Foster will come out of the lineup:
Hackett is expected to make his second career start tonight. He has never faced Colorado. If Harding gets the call, it would be his seventh appearance against the Avs. He's 3-2-1 in his career against Colorado with a 1.70 goals against average.
Kurtis Foster will be one healthy scratch, and the other will depend on Clutterbuck’s availability. If Clutterbuck can play, Christensen comes out.