The Minnesota Wild take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight in the back half of a home and home preseason series. Tonight’s action moves to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with puck drop scheduled for 7pm. The Wild took the first game 4-1 with a squad of mainly younger players. Tonight however the big boys come out to play. The Wild’s top line of Mikko Koivu-Zach Parise and Jason Pominville will make their preseason debut along with the top defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin. The roster for tonight will include:
Forwards: Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle, Justin Fontaine, Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jake Dowell, Zenon Konopka, Carson McMillan , David Steckel, Tyler Graovac, Zack Phillips
Defensemen: Ryan Suter , Jonas Brodin , Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon , Clayton Stoner, Keith Ballard
Goalies: Niklas Backstrom , Johan Gustafsson
This group will make up much of the opening night lineup on October 3rd. Minnesota is 1-1 so far this preseason while the Jets are 1-2-1. It will be interesting to see how the top lines fare tonight. I’d expect to see some rust but, the Koivu-Pominville-Parise line looked very good in the intersquad scrimmage last weekend. The second, third and forth line haven’t been announced yet. The second and third “D” pairs will be a later decision as well. I’d expect to see Jared Spurgeon on the second pair and Ballard would be a good bet as his partner.
Niklas Backstrom will get the start in goal and is expected to pay the entire game. Johan Gustafsson will be the back up and will only play if Backstrom has a problem. He look good this preseason and I’m curious to see how he fares over a full 60 minutes. There’s not a whole lot of intrigue heading into tonight’s game. I’m looking for a solid effort by the Wild tonight. One key is avoiding injury for the guys on the roster who look to be active opening night. Another aspect to watch for tonight is the power play and penalty kill units. So far this preseason we haven’t seen the #1 units. Tonight the top power play unit should be: Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley-Jason Pominville-Ryan Suter with the #2 unit featuring:Nino Niederreiter-Charlie Coyle-Mikael Granlund-Jared Spurgeon-Jonas Brodin.
The Jets are bringing the following lineup to St. Paul tonight:
Blake Wheeler – Bryan Little – Andrew Ladd Anthony Peluso – James Wright – Carl Klingberg Matt Halischuk – Mark Scheifele – Patrice Cormier Jerome Samson – Eric O’Dell – Jim Slater
Jacob Trouba – Paul Postma Mark Stuart – Dustin Byfuglien Toby Enstrom – Grant Clitsome
Ondrej Pavelec Edward Pasquale
I’ll be back after the game with a full recap of tonight’s action. I’m expecting to see a bigger crowd at the Xcel Energy Center tonight than on Thursday. There will also be a fairly large contingent of Jets fans making the trip south since tickets are hard to come by for games in Winnipeg. Until next time this is Scott Drain shouting, “Let’s Go Wild!!”