Keith Ballard Returns, Darcy Kuemper To Backup Ilya Bryzgalov?


Apr 30, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper (35) is removed from the ice by trainers due to an injury in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game seven of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Pepsi Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild are set to battle with the defending Stanley Cup champs tonight in what is sure to be an epic Western Conference Semi Final Game Six matchup at the Xcel Energy Center.

Scott will have your game preview up in a little bit, but there is some good news that just can’t wait any longer. Wild defenseman Keith Ballard will return to the lineup and will take Nate Prosser’s place alongside Clayton Stoner on the third pairing. In addition, forward Matt Moulson appears to be close, but the Wild coaching staff are hoping a win tonight will allow them to wait until Thursday night in Chicago. If Minnesota is eliminated, it’s a good bet Moulson has played his last game in Red, White and Green.

Also, in another bit of good news, instead of John Curry, rookie goaltender Darcy Kuemper appears to be backing up starter Ilya Bryzgalov in net. In six games this postseason, the hulking 6’5″ 205-pound goaltender has gone 3-1-1 with a 2.03 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and a shutout prior to sustaining an upper-body injury in the second period of Game Seven in Minnesota’s first round series against the Colorado Avalanche. Bryzgalov–who was benched in favor of the youngster after two rough games to start the series–was forced to step in, making one massive save en route to a 5-4 series clinching overtime win. In eight playoff games this postseason, the enigmatic Russian is 3-5-1 with a 2.78 goals against average, a .877 save percentage and one shutout. While it’s highly unlikely Kuemper receives any playing time, this is a big step in the right direction, and could be huge if the Wild can win the next two games.

Finally, keep the Boogaard family in your prayers. Today is three years to the day of Derek’s passing. You’re forever in our hearts, “Boogeyman”.

Scott will have the full game preview up shortly. It’s a big game tonight. Hang on; this could be a “Wild” one.