The Minnesota Wild take on the St. Louis Blues in preseason action Wednesday night at the Exel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Wild roster is down to 28 players, really 25 if you remove the injured Mike Rupp, Tyler Cuma and Brett Bulmer. 20 of those players will take to the ice against a Blues team that is projected to be one of the top teams in the division. Time to get a little rivalry going! It’s a great time to be a hockey fan in Minnesota with The Blackhawks, Blues, and Av’s in the same division with the Wild. With two preseason contests to go expect the lineup to be pretty close to what you’ll see on opening night October 3rd. The Wild coaching staff is planning to use these final two preseason games to get the team into game shape. The time to look at the youngsters is over and with just a few players left to cut the competition is getting intense. For a look at the current training camp roster click HERE. Minnesota Captain Mikko Koivu missed practice yesterday as his fiance, Helena, went into labor. Mikko is now the proud father of a baby girl. He is expected to play tonight. Forward lines #2-4 will still see some juggling but the #1 line of Koivu, Parise, and Pominville should remain intact. Tonight’s lines will be announced closer to game time but expect Head Coach Yeo to do some rearranging throughout the game trying to get a look at players in a variety of situations. Forwards scratched for tonight are Steckel, Dowell, and Granlund. Granlund is still not fully healed from his groin tweak and it’s better to be safe than sorry with an injury of that nature.
Defensively I expect to see the top pair of Suter and Brodin together on the ice but beyond that the rest of the defense pairs are somewhat fluid. Mathew Dumba struggled for two periods last game against the Blue Jackets but rebounded nicely in the third. He’ll get another shot tonight. Prosser, and Stoner are watching from the press box. Spurgeon will play but who his partner will be is up in the air between Scandella, Ballard, and Dumba. Niklas Backstrom will get the start in goal with Josh Harding as backup.
Tonight should be a fairly physical contest with both squads looking to fine tune various aspects of their game. Penalty kill and power play units will be the regular season line ups. The Wild will have a #1 power play unit of Koivu, Pominville, Parise, Suter and Heatley and a top penalty kill unit including Suter, Spurgeon, Cooke, Koivu. The PK units are also going to see some juggling tonight.
Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Dany Heatley, Jake Dowell, Jason Zucker, Torrey Mitchell, Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cooke, Zenon Konopka, Justin Fontaine, Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter, Kyle Brodziak
The Blues come to town with their lineup pretty much in place for the start of the regular season. One player who won’t be on the ice tonight is recently acquired Brendan Morrow, although I expect him to be on the roster to start the season. St. Louis has posted a 3-1 record to this point in preseason and many writers and pundits are predicting they will be one of the top teams in the division. Here is the Lineup Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock is bringing to St. Paul:
Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Dmitrij Jaskin
Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves