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GAMEDAY: Wild vs. St. Louis

Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 4:04 PM

Mike Doyle - Managing Editor

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GAMEDAY: Wild vs. St. Louis
St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild (42-26-12: 96 points, 7th in Western Conference, 4th in Central Division) vs. St. Louis Blues (52-20-7: 111 points, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Central Division)
The Minnesota Wild locked up its own playoff destiny with a win in its last outing. The Wild is assured the seventh seed and first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Although the Minnesota can’t move up or down, the playoff picture in the West is about as clear as a Jackson Pollock painting.

With three games left on its schedule, tonight’s opponent, the St. Louis Blues, is assured the Central Division and Western Conference titles if it wins out. Once the consensus pick to win the West, the Blues have stumbled down the stretch, losing three-straight. Hot on the St. Louis’ heels are the Colorado Avalanche (two points back). In the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks aim for the top spot in the West. Last night, Anaheim moved closer to the title, beating the Sharks in convincing fashion, 5-2.

What does all this mean to the Wild? Holding the seventh seed, Minnesota’s opening round matchup will be against the divisional champion (Central or Pacific) with the worst record.

Minnesota has struggled against St. Louis this season. The Wild hasn’t won against the Blues, going 0-3-1 against the Central rival. The Blues won both matches at Scottrade Center - 3-0 (11/25) and 5-1 (3/27) while earning two victories at Xcel Energy Center, 2-1 (12/31) and 3-2 in a shootout (3/9).

Wild Captain Mikko Koivu is expected to play in his 600th game tonight. He’s racked up 451 points (130-321=451) points during nine seasons with the Wild.

Goaltender John Curry will get his first start in a Wild sweater. He had a .920 save percentage, 2.62 save percentage and a 7-9-2 record with the Iowa Wild, the team's American Hockey League affiliate.

Defenseman Christian Folin will make his National Hokey League debut tonight against the Blues. The Wild signed the free agent to a two-year, entry-level contract on March 31, after he finished his sophomore season at UMass-Lowell. In his second year of college, Folin led River Hawks defensemen with 20 points (4-16=20), including three game-winning goals and two power-play goals, in 41 games, totaling a plus-10 rating and 31 penalty minutes (PIM). The scouting report on the 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Gothenburg, Sweden, aside from the NHL size, is that he possesses a great shot and is a strong skater.

Minnesota used another third-period comeback to top the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, 4-3, in a shootout. Jason Pominville scored two first-period goals while Ryan Suter sent the game into OT late in the third. Mikko Koivu score in the shootout, while Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all three Boston shooters to improve his record to 7-0-3 since coming to Minnesota. 

The Blues lost to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, 4-1. The Blues' lone goal scorer was Maxim Lapierre. Ryan Miller made 18 saves in the loss.
If You're Going
St. Louis, which until recently had the best record in the NHL, has lost three games in a row and trails Boston by three points in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. With five wins in its past 10 games, the Blues are in danger of having the Avalanche, who are 7-1-2 in their past 10, pass them and claim the top spot in the Central. The team that wins the division will avoid a first-round playoff series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Blues forwards David Backes (upper body) and Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb) are expected to be out tonight.
Fan Celebration Week continues tonight. It is Wells Fargo College Night, all fans in attendance will receive a scratch and win card, autographed Ryan Suter and Zach Parise Team USA sweaters will be given away during the intermissions and the DinoMites will receive a check at intermission.


The Wild will wear its RED sweaters tonight.
Who's Hot Gameday Media
Since March 18, Koivu leads the NHL with 13 assists and 16 points (12 games). He has 26 points (4-22=26) in his last 24 games and leads the Wild in assists this season (his fourth topping 40), ranking third with 53 points (11-42=53) in 63 games. He ranks fifth amongst all NHL forwards in TOI/game (21:06) and 12th in faceoff win percentage (55.1) this season.


Fans can guess who's going to be hot with the Wild's HotBox Fantasy Challenge for a chance to win great prizes.

Wild.com
Game Notes | Transactions | Injury Report | Lighthouse | @mnwildLIVE | @mnwild
WildTV
Yeo | Folin | Parise | Rupp
PONDcast
Coming Soon
Probably Wild Lineup Between The Pipes
If things don’t change from last game, here’s what the lines will look like:

Parise—Koivu—Coyle
Moulson—Haula—Pominville
Cooke—Brodziak—Heatley
Rupp—McCormick—Niederreiter

Frolin will replace Spurgeon:

Folin—Suter
Prosser—Brodin
Blum—Scandella
It looks like John Curry will get his first start with the Wild. The Shorewood native has played in four career games, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
View From The Press Box
He's going to come in, give him an opportunity and see what he can do.

- Yeo on Folin


Defenseman Jared Spurgeon will get a rest along with forwards Justin Fontaine, Stephane Veilleux and Jake Dowell. Defenseman Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner both have lower-body injuries. Kuemper and Granlund have upper-body injuries.

Forward Jason Zucker (surgery) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness) are on Injured Reserve. Niklas Backstrom is shutdown for the remainder of the season.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident Worthless Stat
Backes is a native of Minneapolis and played three seasons at Minnesota State Mankato (2003-06). D Jordan Leopold was born in Golden Valley and played four seasons with the University of Minnesota (1998-2002). T.J. Oshie played high school hockey in Warroad. Curry will be the fifth Wild netminder (Bryzgalov, Kuemper, Harding and Backstrom) to play against the Blues.

Broadcast Info In Case You Missed It
Wild vs. Blues will be broadcast nationally in high definition on NBC Sports Network with a start time at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.            
Wild.com
Best Of The Web | Prospects Report | Refusal To Quit Among Reasons Wild Is In Playoffs Five Takeaways vs BOS | 5-Hole vs BOS |
WildTV
Yeo Postgame vs. BOS | Koivu Postgame vs. BOS | Parise Postgame vs. BOS | Suter Postgame vs. BOS | Bryzgalov Postgame vs. BOS | Moulson Postgame vs. BOS |
PONDcast
  Wild 4, Boston 3 (SO) |
Photo Gallery
Wild vs Boston | A Season In Hugs
2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 10 '14STL 2 at MIN 4M. Moulson
Mar 27 '14MIN 1 at STL 5T. Oshie
Mar 09 '14STL 3 at MIN 2 - SOT. Oshie
Dec 31 '13STL 2 at MIN 1J. Schwartz
Nov 25 '13MIN 0 at STL 3V. Sobotka
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
A. Steen66332962+184479
T. Oshie79213960+194255
D. Backes74273057+14119105
J. Schwartz78253156+282551
A. Pietrangelo8084351+213221
K. Shattenkirk79103545+43675
V. Tarasenko64212243+201653
D. Roy7492837-13042
J. Bouwmeester8043337+272010
V. Sobotka6192433+147211
P. Berglund77141832+103822
C. Stewart58151126+211233
B. Morrow71131225+17643
S. Ott8091423-388861
M. Lapierre699615-27801
B. Jackman7831215+119501
R. Polak704913+56900
M. Paajarvi536612-5401
I. Cole453811+153100
R. Reaves61268+012600
J. Leopold26156+2400
C. Colaiacovo23134-21600
D. Jaskin16112-1600
A. Cracknell17022+2000
C. Porter20011-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
R. Miller5725-28-414818242.63.919
J. Halak4024-9-48310022.23.917
B. Elliott3118-6-2536811.96.922
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Pominville81292857+41675
Z. Parise66282755+1330135
M. Koivu64114253+12424
M. Moulson74232750+23295
R. Suter8183543+153430
M. Granlund6383341-32222
N. Niederreiter80142236+124221
C. Coyle69121830-63322
D. Heatley76121628-181842
M. Cooke81101828+85403
J. Spurgeon6652025+161421
K. Brodziak8181624+06101
J. Fontaine6513821+62411
J. Brodin7881119+22030
M. Scandella7531417+122001
E. Haula455813+132901
K. Ballard45279-73700
T. Mitchell58189-32100
N. Prosser52268+35802
C. McCormick42257-45000
J. Zucker21415+2211
C. Stoner62145-68200
S. Veilleux33303-22100
Z. Konopka36112-55500
M. Dumba13112-5210
J. Blum14011+0000
M. Rupp13011+12300
C. Folin1011+3000
B. Bulmer5000-2200
C. McMillan1000+0000
J. Dowell1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Harding2918-7-3466901.65.933
I. Bryzgalov3112-8-8768702.57.913
D. Kuemper2612-8-4607022.43.915
N. Backstrom215-11-2555463.02.899
J. Curry11-0-02452.00.956
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