With little time to rest the Minnesota Wild are back in action Sunday night at 7 pm. Game two of this compressed 48 game season finds the Dallas Stars visiting the Xcel Energy Center. The early part of the schedule favors the Minnesota squad with three straight home games to start the season. The Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche last night 4-2 behind a pair of goals from Dany Heatley. The Stars were opened at home in Dallas with a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. The Wild went 1-2-1 against Dallas last season. The Wild have 11 home victories, and a pair of ties in 22 home games vs the Stars. Overall though Dallas holds a 22-14-8 record against Minnesota.
Dallas added some star power to their lineup this summer signing Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. Jagr brings 1657 points the Stars including a pair of goals and 2 assists in the season opener last night. Whitney is a member of the thousand point club as well. Those two should provide an interesting matchup against the top defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon for the Wild. Reportedly Dallas will start Cristopher Nilstorp in goal instead of last nights winner Kari Lehtonen. For the Wild it will be goaltender Josh Harding getting his first start of the season. This will also be his first game action since being diagnosed with Muliple Sclerosis (MS) during the extended off season. Wild.com reports there was no morning skate, just a meeting as they prepare for tonight’s action. With the compressed schedule of 48 games in 99 days I’d expect to see this happen often this year. The Wild will need a better start to the game than Saturday night when they seemed flat for most of the first period. Keeping the Dallas offense off balance and staying out of the penalty box will be two of the key points for Minnesota. After getting cut by a stick last night we may or may not see Zenon Konopka in action. Look for Matt Kassian to take the enforcer role tonight.
The Wild have a potent weapon in their power play units. That was evident last night as the Heatley, Koivu, Parise combo proved. The trio combined for 9 points on the evening. Another big crowd is expected for tonight’s 7 pm puck drop at the Xcel Energy Center. Scoring form the second and third lines is needed to take the pressure off the top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and Dany Heatley. I look for Kyle Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Rookie Mikael Granlund to have a good game. Physical play, puck control and sustained offensive zone time by the Wild will need to be even better than last night to pick up the “W” . GonePuckWild.com will be back after the game to break down the evenings action. GO Wild! Let’s Play Hockey!