Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at Minnesota Wild


The Minnesota Wild look to rebound tonight against the New Jersey Devils after losing 3-2 against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. The Wild are hoping to win one of the few games remaining on their schedule which is not against a playoff spot-holding team. New Jersey sits 10 points back of the final eastern conference wild card spot coming into tonight’s game. Therefore Minnesota can expect a desperate team much like the Avalanche were on Sunday.

ESPN’s transaction report shows the Devils traded right-winger Jaromir Jagr and defensemen Marik Zidlicky for draft picks. Trading out as opposed to bringing players in at the trade deadline demonstrates that New Jersey’s management is focused on building for future years more than making the playoffs this year. The Devils are a team the Wild should beat tonight. However, the young players being called up looking to prove themselves coupled with a team that has nothing to lose means we might see some passionate hockey from the Devils. Despite reduced playoff hopes the Devils are hot going 7-2-1 in their last 10. That record is 4th best in the NHL over that time beat only by the New York Rangers (7-1-2), Ottawa Senators (8-1-1), and of course, the Minnesota Wild (8-2-0).

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The Wild have not played well against the Devils going 4-9-2 since the franchise started.  Zach Parise will play against his former team for just the third time since coming over to the Wild. Check out Mike Russo’s latest blog about the upcoming game with an interesting mention of Parise needing to “cut the cord” that players often joke is still attached.

Russo also reports, and if you were listening on KFAN today he witnessed it live, Matt Dumba stung Devan Dubnyk in practice much like he stung Semyon Varlamov on Sunday. Dubnyk reported he is ok, and continued to tell Dumba not to worry about it. Although, I suspect Dumba might learn to ease up a bit.

“He’s got an incredible shot. I’m fine. If you watch me, I can usually catch most of them or at least get a glove on it. But he’s hitting those things pretty good. I mean, you saw last game. One fell victim to it that wasn’t me […] They hurt. He’s such a good kid. I told him to stop worrying about it, stop apologizing. My arm’s already dead” -via Mike Russo of the Star Tribune

Dubnyk will make his 26th consecutive start according to Mike Russo. Dubnyk now has the longest streak of consecutive starts in the NHL since 2012. Dubnyk continues to play well, however if the Wild are going to go deep into playoffs and stay healthy in net they will need Darcy Kuemper to step in-between the pipes at some point. It’s undoubtedly a tough conversation for the coaching staff since Dubnyk has been playing so well and the team are playing confidently in front of him. Check out Dustin’s article on Dubnyk and how his play has not only catapulted the Wild back into playoff contention, but made him a worthy Vezina Trophy mention. Also this video series demonstrates how the loss against Colorado Sunday could have been much worse if not for DOOOOOOOOOBnyk.

Cory Schneider gets the start for the Devils according to New Jersey’s public relations website. Schneider is also a Vezina candidate and is currently maintaining some impressive numbers. He’s 7th in the league in goals against at 2.18  and 2nd in save percentage at .928.  Most notable to me is that he has maintained those numbers while facing more shots than any other goalie and playing the 2nd most games at 57. Check out this link to stats for a comparison of league’s leaders.

According to Mike Russo Jordan Schroeder will get his second straight scratch tonight and the Wild will continue to build chemistry with the lines they rolled against Colorado on Sunday. Jason Zucker, Matt Cooke, and Ryan Carter all are continuing to mend their injuries, and Marco Scandella is a hopeful to return on Friday against Anaheim.

That’s it for me. Sit back and enjoy tonight. The weather is warming and the Wild have given us something to stay tuned-in for. 16 games remaining in the Wild’s schedule, and although I had my doubts, and nearly lost faith, I’m looking forward to another playoff push in April.