Marc-Andre Fleury won’t make his first start with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night but another one of the team’s trade-deadline acquisitions will make his debut .
Jake Middleton, who was obtained from the San Jose Sharks for goalie Kaapo Kahkonen and a fifth-round selection in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, is paired with Jared Spurgeon as the Wild continue a nine-game homestand against Vancouver..
“That’s what I bring, kind of a physical element,” Middleton said during a media availability session after Wednesday’s practice. “Blocking shots, boxing guys out. I’m a pretty simple guy, it’s kind of what helped me get my pro career started and what’s kept me around. So if I can do those type of things night in and night out and take a load off some of the more skilled guys, that’s what I hope to bring to the table.”
Thursday also marks the return of former Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to the Xcel Energy Center. Boudreau coached Minnesota from 2016-20, and has a 23-11-6 record since he took over the Canucks job on Dec. 5.
Cam Talbot, who is coming off a shutout of Vegas on Monday, will get the start in net against the Canukcs. Vancouver sits in fifth place in the Pacific Division but is just five points behind Edmonton for third.
The Canucks are also three points behind Dallas for the second wild card spot.
Thursday’s game is the start of three games in four days for the Wild. Minnesota hosts Columbus on SAturday and then has a showdown with Central Division-leading Colorado on Sunday.
The Wild vs Canucks odds on .WynnBET has Minnesota favored by 1.5 goals at the Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota also is the favorite on the moneyline at -260 and Vancouver is the underdog at +220. The over/under for the matchup is listed at six total goals.
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Upcoming Wild schedule
Saturday, March 26: Columbus, 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 27: Colorado, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, March 29: Philadephia, 7 p.m.