Minnesota Wild vs Philadelphia Flyers: Preview


January 17, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Philadelphia Flyers center

Brayden Schenn

(10) skates past Minnesota Wild defenseman

Jared Spurgeon

(46) during the 3rd period of game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Flyers defeated the Wild, 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild take on the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Arena tonight with puck drop slated for 6:30 pm.  The Wild are wrapping up a 3 game road trip and hope to salvage one win out of the three games after disappointing losses to Pittsburgh and New York.  Minnesota has their work cut out for them as the Flyers have an 8 game home win streak in progress and they are 5-5 in their last ten games.  Overall the Wild are 20-13-5 to the Flyers 16-16-4, the Wild are 4th in the Central Division while the Flyers are 4th in the Metropolitan Division.  Minnesota took the first of two meeting between the teams back on December 2nd, a 2-0 shutout win paced by Josh Harding‘s 21 saves.  Tonight it will be Niklas Backstrom in net for the second consecutive night of back to back games.  Backstrom did not play badly last night in the Wild’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers, he just got not goal support from his teammates.  In Backstrom’s last 6 games he’s had a total of 5 goals scored by his team.  That won’t win many games.

The forward lines for tonight could be a bit different tonight.  Based on today’s skate the lines tonight could be Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle on the top line.  I’m pretty sure Yeo won’t split up the reunited trio of Jason PominvilleMikael GranlundNino Niederreiter on the second line.  The third line could have Dany Heatley with Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke while the fourth appears to be Torrey MitchellZenon Konopka and Stephane Veilleux.  Veilleux hass be called up from the Iowa Wild and Eric Haula has been sent down to the AHL team.  Hey, anything Wild Head Coach Yeo can do to spark some scoring is fine with me at this point.

Defensively Nate Prosser is in action tonight and Clayton Stoner is a healthy scratch.  That makes the defensive pairings tonight, Ryan Suter with Jonas Brodin while Jared Spurgeon is paired with Marco Scandella.  Nate Prosser will be paired with Keith Ballard which should make for quite a physical, nasty tandem on defense there.  I like that pair against a physical Flyers lineup.

As I mentioned earlier Backstrom is in goal for the Wild.  At the other end of the ice is Steve Mason who has posted a record of 13-9-4 with a goals against average of 2.40 and a save percentage of .922.

Minnesota is going to have to get off to a good start as they did last night but sustain the effort for three full periods.  They’ve beaten this Philly team once this season so they know how to get the job done.  The Wild will have to avoid penalties as the Flyers have scored 23 power play goals this season.  The Minnesota power play is going to have to make some thing off the chances they will get tonight.  They can’t continue to pass the puck around the perimeter looking for a perfect play.  They need to pound the puck on goal and look for rebounds and deflections to beat Mason.

You can catch tonight’s action on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 6:30, check your local listings for channel info.  I’ll be back after the action with a recap and analysis of the action.