Game Preview: Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets


Another monumental game for the Minnesota Wild tonight in Winnipeg. The Wild look to extend their six game win streak to seven while facing a tough second game of a back-to-back home-and-away. Winnipeg is looking to re-gain its footing after losing six of its last seven and putting itself at risk of being caught by teams like the Wild for a playoff spot.

Last night the Wild beat the Vancouver Canucks, however they lost Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter in the process. No word on the specifics of either’s injuries, however, they have been placed on injured reserve, and therefore according to league rules will not be eligible to play for at least 7 days. Brett Sutter and Stu Bickel have been recalled from Iowa to fill in the holes, and Justin Fontaine, activated off of Injured Reserve Monday, will also likely suit up tonight. Check out Dustin’s coverage of the Wild’s transactions.

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Given tonight is a back-to-back, Devan Dubnyk (the player inspiring the crowd’s “doooooobb” chants) could get a rest, since Darcy Kuemper has been recalled from his conditioning stint in Iowa and is ready to play. My gut tells me that Dubnyk will profess a readiness to play, and Yeo will give the net to him. However, I wouldn’t mind if Kuemper started. If my memory serves me correctly, it seems Kuemper has always played better when the number one spot wasn’t his and he had something to prove. In the end, this team needs Dubnyk and cannot afford to have him suffer an injury, but it needs wins more. Take a look at Mike Russo’s take.

Winnipeg has had its own drama in the last few weeks, with star winger Evander Kane now out of the line up for shoulder surgery. As the article linked above shows, the entire Jets organization remains tight lipped about other personality conflicts amidst Kane’s de-activation. The Jets won their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday and its anybody’s guess if they are on their way to righting the ship.

Bryan Little, leading the Jets with 21 goals, looks to take advantage of a thought to be travel-weary Wild. Expect Michael Hutchinson to make the start between the pipes for Winnipeg since the team has been rotating every other game between their two goalies . Also, he started the last two games against the Wild and made a relief appearance in the first game of the season between the two clubs.

The Wild are up 2-0-1 in the season series against Winnipeg with each losing an over time game in Minnesota. All three games have been decided by one goal. The Wild are currently sitting six points back of the Jets who are holding the 1st wild-card spot and three points back of the Canucks who are holding the 2nd wild-card spot.

The Wild, despite having won their last six games, still face an uphill battle to make the playoffs. Check out this in-depth look at the Wild’s odds as they change with every NHL game played. The calculations show that by beating Vancouver the Wild’s play-off hopes increased from 7.4% to 43.6%. With 30 games remaining, one thing is certain; The more games the Wild wins, the more likely they will make the playoffs.

I have been telling myself not to be surprised if the Wild loses. I have been doing this every game since the Wild won its third straight. Perhaps it is the Minnesota Sports fan in me always waiting for the other shoe to drop. My psyche aside, it has been going well so far, so I will continue to heed my own words of caution, and I advise you all out there to do the same. Settle in front of your television or radio for what is likely going to be a tough game tonight. Regardless of the result, Wild fans should take after their team and never give up hope. We’re still in this.