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At the Rink: Lightning at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Christoph Bertschy will make his NHL debut Saturday when the Wild host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-N).

The Wild lost forward Zach Parise to a sprained MCL in his right knee on Thursday, causing coach Mike Yeo to do some line juggling. Parise is out week-to-week, opening a spot for Bertschy, who will begin the game with Erik Haula and Thomas Vanek on Minnesota's third line.

Bertschy, a sixth-round selection by the Wild in the 2012 NHL Draft, was recalled Saturday morning from Iowa of the American Hockey League, where he is tied for the team lead with two goals and six points.

"I'm pretty excited, obviously a little nervous," Bertschy said. "System-wise, it's pretty much the same as it is down in Iowa. [Wild coach Mike Yeo] will talk to me before the game and we'll just go from there."

At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Bertschy is a skilled forward willing to play like someone bigger.

"He's got skill, but what I like is, he's a real competitive kid," Yeo said. "From what I've heard and seen so far, he's obviously not a huge guy, but he plays bigger than his size. He's willing to finish his checks and go to the hard areas, and he's got an awful lot of speed.

"I thought he had a pretty good [training] camp, I thought he got better as time went on. I've been told that he's been doing a pretty good job down in Iowa and he's been their best, most consistent player there."

Tampa Bay will be without forward Jonathan Drouin, who will miss his sixth consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Drouin took part in an optional skate at Xcel Energy Center on Friday and skated again Saturday but did not take part in line rushes.

Coach Jon Cooper said Drouin will likely require further evaluation once the Lightning return home this weekend. The game against the Wild completes a four-game road trip and the Lightning open a stretch of six games in seven at Amalie Arena beginning Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Naturally, it's a concern because we didn't anticipate that it was going to be this long," Cooper said. "But the injury he has, those are tough ones. It's affecting him and his stride, his battle and his power. You don't want to have guys out there that are playing apprehensive because they're hurt."

Here are the projected lineups:


Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Valtteri Filppula

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Vladislav Namestnikov - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Brown - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matt Carle - Jason Garrison

Andrej Sustr - Braydon Coburn

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Jonathan Drouin (lower body)

Scratched: None


Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Jason Pominville - Mikael Granlund - Charlie Coyle

Thomas Vanek - Erik Haula - Christoph Bertschy

Chris Porter - Ryan Carter - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Zach Parise (knee), Nate Prosser (back), Justin Fontaine (knee), Tyler Graovac (sports hernia)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom

Status update: The Lightning do not have any extra skaters after reassigning forward Tye McGinn and defenseman Nikita Nesterov to Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Friday … Prosser's back injury is considered day-to-day. Folin will play for the first time since Oct. 25.

Who's hot: Kucherov is riding a four-game point streak with six points over that span. He had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win against the Sabres on Thursday … Zucker has at least a point in seven consecutive games.

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