Vancouver Canucks vs Minnesota Wild Preview


A matinee against the Vancouver Canucks, the Wild look to make it three in-a-row.

An impressive matchup against the Calgary Flames earned Devan Dubnyk first star of the game honors. Dubnyk made 30 saves including a save on a Paul Byron breakaway. The Wild scored on a slick Vanek-to-Parise set-up, and that’s the only goal we saw all night.

It is a breath of fresh air to watch close games with Dubnyk in net because there seems to be more confidence running through each player. You know Dubnyk will make the saves he needs to make and will always give the Wild a chance to win each game. Since the Wild traded a third-round pick to Devan Dubnyk, the Wild have only allowed more than one goal twice in the six games he has started, including two shutouts.

Michael Russo, of the Star Tribune, wrote that the Wild may be without Ryan Suter tonight who appeared to be limping at times during the game against the Flames. Should he be sidelined, Christian Folin will lineup next to Jonas Brodin. Justin Fontaine is also out with a groin injury and will be replaced by Erik Haula who has been a healthy scratch the last two games. Haula will center Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke.

By the way, Happy Super Bowl Sunday Wild fans! Watch Kyle Brodziak, Charlie Coyle, Ryan Carter, and Erik Haula weigh in on today’s game:

Russo also noted that this is the 12th time in Wild history where they played road games in Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver in the same trip This is the second chance they will get to go a perfect 3-0 in those games. None bigger so this year with the Wild trying to climb their way back in the playoff picture. The Wild (50 points) currently sit four spots out of the 2nd wild card spot and trail the Colorado Avalanche (53 points), Dallas Stars (53 points), Los Angeles Kings (54) points, and the Calgary Flames (57 points). It is important to note that the Wild currently have one or two games on each team as well.

To beat the Vancouver Canucks, the Wild will need to play a physical game. It will be crucial that the Wild’s big boys set the tone early and get under the Canucks skin. I think we will see both teams finishing their checks and perhaps a fight or two breakout. Prior to allowing one goal in three games, the Canucks have allowed 10 goals in their last three games. It will be important for the Wild to get bodies in front of the net and get plenty of shots on net. When Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller is rattled, goals come easy.

Watch Mike Yeo’s presser after yesterday’s practice here:

Here are my three bold predictions for tonight’s game:

1. Holla for Haula. Erik Haula doesn’t want to be scratched anymore, and that’s why I think he will play with something to prove tonight. Remember, Haula didn’t necessarily earn his spot tonight, he is replacing the injured Justin Fontaine. Look for Haula to get his 5th goal of the year.

2. El Nino hits Vancouver. Nino Niederreiter has been a changed player since ending his scoreless streak in Edmonton. I like him for a goal tonight and a big, physical presence which will frustrate the Canucks greatly.

3. Zucker. Normally,  going four games without a goal wouldn’t be a big story-line for Jason Zucker. However, Zucker has had a career this year and has been huge for the Wild all season. Look for him on the scoresheet tonight with a goal and a helper.

Wild 4, Canucks 2