Minnesota Wild: Xcel Energy Center is Unfriendly Environment for Stars

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 21: Minnesota Wild Center Mikko Koivu (9) looks to pass during the NHL game between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars on November 21, 2016, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Dallas defeats Minnesota 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 21: Minnesota Wild Center Mikko Koivu (9) looks to pass during the NHL game between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars on November 21, 2016, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Dallas defeats Minnesota 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Wild would like to erase last night’s loss to St.Louis from everybody’s memory. Tonight in St.Paul they get the chance to do just that.

Puck Drop will be at 7pm central time at the Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota Wild play host to the Dallas Stars. Last night’s game in Iowa was technically a home game, but tonight is the first official home game at Xcel.


Preseason Game 3 will see the preseason debut of Minnesota Wild captain, Mikko Koivu, along with Zach Parise. Nino Niederreiter will draw back into this game after Game 1, and we should get to see how this potential Line 2 can perform together.

Koivu and Parise are both older veterans who don’t need a ton of ice time in the preseason to round into regular season form. It will be intriguing to see if this line can be better than Line 1 was last night, but I don’t expect them to see a ton of ice-time. Boudreau should protect his veterans from any unnecessary injuries.

The official game line-up was shared by @mnwildPR, but then corrected by @mnwild to show that Jordan Greenway will actually be sitting out tonight’s game.

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Preseason stand-out Justin Kloos will get into his 3rd preseason game (the only Minnesota Wild player to do so), and will likely be given the role of Greenway’s spot between Charlie Coyle and Joel Eriksson Ek.

Kloos has been a threat everytime he has been on the ice in the preseason, and I would expect that to continue playing with higher level linemates. Coyle and Ek were not a huge factor in Winnipeg, perhaps Kloos can bring some more offense out of them.

I’d personally love to see Kloos get half the game with that line and then allow the star from Traverse City, Gerry Fitzgerald, to have a chance to generate some offense with top level talent. If that happens, Kloos would then find himself on last year’s Iowa Wild top line with Sam Anas and Kyle Rau.

Monday’s only goal scorer, Matt Hendricks will be back in for the game. Could me see him centering a bruising line alongside J.T. Brown and Mike Liambas? Liambas was a late scratch from Tuesday’s game, but is listed again on tonight’s lineup.

Hendricks has made his name as a fighter in the NHL, and Liambas has made his name off wallpapering players at every hockey level. This one could get scrappy if Dallas isn’t careful.


Longtime Minnesota Wild veteran Jared Spurgeon will get to see his first action of the preseason but his usual defensive partner, Ryan Suter, will be sitting out to preserve the recovery of his ankle.

I would expect Nate Prosser to start the game on the pair with Spurgeon. Prosser has been left out in the cold by all of the young players arriving to Minnesota, but has always shown he is capable of playing in any scenario the team asks of him.

Nick Seeler and Greg Pateryn will get into their second game together, and should look to be paired together for most of it. They played really well together in Winnipeg, and are the odds-on favorite to win the battle for the 3rd D pairing in Minnesota.

That leaves Carson Soucy and Matt Bartkowski to pair together and shift throughout the lineup over the course of the night. Both are on the outside looking in as far as the opening day roster goes, but should each get a chance to rotate around the D lineup tonight to test out potential pairings and combinations.

Soucy impressed in limited game action last spring, getting into all 5 playoff games, but should find himself back in Iowa this fall. Tonight is his first opportunity to grab the attention away from Seeler and try to prove he should stay with the big club.


Devan Dubnyk will get his first start of the Minnesota Wild preseason, following strong losing efforts from both of the men looking to secure the role as his backup for the regular season.

The WIld already know what they have in Dubnyk though, so I’ll be shocked if he actually plays the entire game. This should be enough exposure to get him back in a rhythm and up to game speed, nothing more.

Andrew Hammond will get the backup role, and should be expecting to take over from Dubnyk mid game. He only allowed one legitimate goal in Winnipeg, and will want to bounce back after a non-goal cost him his first start in Wild green.

Alex Stalock one-upped Hammond with a stellar performance last night, I want to see Hammond come in and steal this game to bring himself back into the race for Dubie’s backup.

Dallas Stars

The first thing that catches my attention about this Stars lineup, is that it appears that former Minnesota Wild goalie Anton Khudobin will be getting the start in this one. It should be no surprise I’m a fan of Khudobin, as evidenced by where I rank him among the Best Wild Goalies, and Worst Trades of All Time.

The Stars will also be dressing Miro Heiskanen on defense, a first round draft pick who deposited 2 goals against the Wild in the Traverse City tournament last week.

New arrivals Blake Comeau and Valeri Nichushkin are the top offensive threats to look out for in this Dallas preseason lineup, as they will both be looking to establish themselves and prove their value after being signed in the summer. They should be on the top line with Radek Faksa in this one.

Defensively, aside from Heiskanen Marc Methot is the top one to watch. Last season’s big trade with Vegas brought Methot to be on the top pair in Dallas, but a season marred with injuries left Dallas holding the bag on a trade that didn’t work out.

He will be healthy and ready to go tonight, so the Minnesota Wild need to be be aware of his presence whenever he is on the ice. Methot is a shutdown type defenseman, but can also be a fighter. Perhaps we see him drop the gloves with Hendricks or Liambas if someone takes a big hit in this one.

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Dallas have some talented players, but Minnesota is itching to get a win after 2 close losses. Home ice should be to the favor of the Minnesota Wild, as Minnesota fans hate the North Stars and are always loud when they come to town. I’m saying 3-2 win for the good guys, credited to Dubnyk but earned by a solid 3rd period from Hammond.