Minnesota Wild vs Buffalo Sabres: Preview


Oct 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon (46) takes a shot as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk (3) defends during the third period at First Niagara Center. Wild beat the Sabres 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Minnesota Wild take on the Buffalo Sabres at the Xcel Energy Center with puck drop slated for 7 pm.   If you’re a team looking to end a losing streak this is the night to do it.  The Sabres are the worst team in the NHL so far this season with a record of 11-25-4 totaling just 26 points to date. Buffalo also enters tonight game without a road win under Coach Ted Nolan going 0-6-2 since he took over the Sabres helm.  Minnesota enters the game with a 20-17-5 record good for 45 points and 5th -place in the Central Divsion.  The Wild are a mess right now losing six straight games and struggling to put a complete game together.  Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo is switching up the line combinations and the organization has called up Jason Zucker from the Iowa Wild.  In another roster move Zenon Konopka has been placed on waivers, we’ll see if any takes him or if he ends up in Des Moines with the Iowa Wild. The other possibility is that there is some kind of a trade brewing.  Bottom line is this Wild team desperately needs a win and they need it now.  Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo’s time with the Wild could come to an end if he doesn’t turn this ship around and soon.

The forward lines tonight are shuffled from top to bottom.  The top line will feature Mikko Koivu with Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley.  The second line will be the 21 year olds, consisting of Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.  Matt Cooke, Charlie Coyle and Justin Fontaine make up the third line while Torrey Mitchell, Kyle Brodziak and Stephane Veilleux are the fourth liners.  These are some interesting line combinations to put it mildly.  The Wild are looking to find some kind of consistent play at both ends of the ice.  We’ll see how long these combination last tonight.  In the past some of Mike Yeo’s experiments haven’t made it past the second period. As you can see Zach Parise is still on IR recuperating with a broken foot. Something he should have been doing back on November 24th the day after the injury happened instead of trying to play through it and not being able to give a 100% effort.

Defensively Clayton Stoner has been activated off of IR and is expected to play tonight. He’s missed the last four games with a lower body injury.  He’ll be paired with Nate Prosser tonight.  The other two pairings are Ryan Suter with Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin with Marco Scandella.  The return of Stoner means Keith Ballard will be a healthy scratch tonight.

Niklas Backstrom will get the start in goal tonight.  He brings a record of 2-9-2, a goals against of 3..32 and a save percentage of .893 into tonight’s contest.  Josh Harding is feeling ill and the team has called up Darcy Kuemper from Iowa to back up Backstrom tonight.   Ryan Miller will be starting in net for the Sabres he has a record of 10-17-1 to date, with a goals against of 2.69 and a save percentage at .927.

The Minnesota Wild are desperate for a win and they need to play like it tonight.  They need to come out fast and hard against a Buffalo team that is already looking at next year.  The Wild are a team built to win now and they need to break this losing streak and regain some of the confidence they showed earlier this season when they were setting franchise records.  I’ll be back after the game with a recap and analysis of the night’s action.  Until then this is Scott Drain still yelling, Let’s Go Wild!