The Minnesota Wild face the Winnipeg Jets this evening at the Xcel Energy Center with puck drop scheduled for 7 pm. The Wild are looking for their first win of the season, posting a record of 0-1-2 to date. They face a Jets team who are 2-1-0 and have a scoring average of 4.0 goals per game. The Wild enter tonight’s action scoring 2.33 goals per game while allowing 3.0. The Wild are ready for their first “W” of the season an who better to get it against than their new Central Division rival the Winnipeg Jets. The last time the Jets came to town, February 16th 2012, they took the victory 4-3 with Evander Kane netting the game winner in the fourth round of the shootout. Since that game the Wild have made a lot of changes and added many new faces to the lineup. 11 players who suited up for the Wild in that game are no longer with the team. One player, Devin Setoguchi, will be in the visitor’s dressing room this time around. Just 1 defensman is the same, Jared Spurgeon who will be paired with Keith Ballard. The other D-pairs for tonight are Ryan Suter with Jonas Brodin and rookie Mathew Dumba skating with Clayton Stoner.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo is shaking things up on the forward lines trying to get some offensive production and hopefully a win. Tonight’s top line will consist of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and the addition of Nino Niederreiter. This is quite a promotion/experiment for Nino who has accumulated 2 assists so far this season. His speed and play making ability should fit in well with Parise and Koivu. The second line will have Dany Heatley , Mikaael Granlund and Jason Pominville. The third line consists of Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak, and Justin Fontaine. Tonight look for this line to be rather physical, forchecking hard against the Jet’s to line. On the fourth line will be the speedy Torrey Mitchell, enforcer Zenon Konopka and veteran checker Stephane Veilleux who was called up from the Iowa Wild to fill the roster spot created when Charlie Coyle went down with a knee injury. Wild Head Coach Yeo is also sending the team a message that the current status quo is not acceptable and he’s looking for 100% effort on every shift. It’s going to be the little things that make the difference between the first win of the season and a disappointing 4th straight loss.
Some bad news on the goal tending front. Niklas Backstrom‘s injured knee is going to keep him out for at least tonight and perhaps longer. According to the team, Backstrom is officially listed as day-to-day. Josh Harding will get his first start of the season tonight and Darcy Kuemper has been recalled from the AHL’s Iowa Wild as Harding’s back up.
The Jets come to town to face the Wild in the first of 4 games between the divisional foes this season. Look for a sold out Xcel Energy Center tonight with plenty of Winnipeg fans in attendance. It’s easier for Jests fans to get their hand on tickets in St. Paul than in Winnipeg. Wild fans better be ready to cheer loudly and chant “Let’s Go Wild!” to drown out the “Go Jets Go!” of the Winnipeg faithful. I’ll be back after the game with a recap and analysis of all tonight’s action. Until then this is Scott Drain shouting, “LET’S GO WILD!!”