UPDATE: Mikael Granlund will be making his return from a concussion tonight. He will be reunited with Pominville and Niederreiter on the 2nd line. That means Coyle moves to the top line with Parise and Koivu. Cooke, Brodziak and Heately will be on the 3rd line. The Fourth line is Rupp, Haula, and Mitchell. Justin Fontaine, Nate Prosser and Zenon Konopka are the scratches tonight.
The Minnesota Wild are in New York to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden this evening at 6:30 pm Central Time. This is the first ot two meeting between the Wild and Rangers this season, the second is on March 13th in St. Paul. Minnesota is on game two of a three game road trip leading up to the Christmas break. They lost the opener badly, 5-2 at Pittsburgh, on Thursday. The Rangers are in the midst of a 9 game home stand but have struggled during it going 1-4-2 in the first 7 games. Tonight should be a good chance for the Wild to pick up a road win. New York has one of the worst home records in the Easter Conference. Minnesota has struggled on the road this season going 6-9-3 so far but a win tonight would give them confidence going into Philadelphia tomorrow on the 2nd game of this back to back. Currently the Wild are in 4th place in the Central Division with 45 points on a record of 20-12-5. The Rangers hold 6th place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 16-18-2 good for just 34 points.
The big question for the Wild is will Mikael Granlund make his return to action tonight? He’s had a couple of great practices the past couple of days but has not been officially cleared to return to game play. There was no morning skate today due to basketball at MSG. So we’ll have to wait until closer to game time for that answer. Here’s the lines as they practiced yesterday; Mikko Koivu-Zach Parise-Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter-Kyle Brodziak-Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle-Matt Cooke-Justin Fontaine, and Mike Rupp-Zenon Konopka-Eric Haula. Of course throw those out the window if Granlund comes back.
Defensively the pairing look to be the same as last game; Ryan Suter with Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella, and Clayton Stoner with Keith Ballard. Two Wild defensemen are skating in milestone games tonight as Spurgeon and Stoner are set to play their 200th NHL games tonight. Spurgeon has 61 points (13g, 4a) while Stoner has accumulated 29 points (3a, 26a) to date.
The Wild have an opportunity to get back on the right track after a miserable showing in Pittsburgh. A road win tonight in New York would definitely give the team some much needed momentum heading into their matchup with the Flyers. A quick start and good puck control are need tonight to take control of a game against a struggling and disconnected Ranger squad. You can catch all the action on Fox Sports North (FSN) and MSG Network. I’ll be back after the game with some analysis and a recap of a potential Wild victory. Until then this is Scott Drain calling out in the snowy Minnesota winter, “Let’s Go Wild!!”