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At the Rink: Wild at Blues

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Zach Parise took part in the morning skate for the Minnesota Wild on Thursday but will not play against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-MW).

Parise, who has been bothered by a lower-body injury, is day-to-day and could return when the Wild (19-10-6) play back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

"Don't expect this to be a huge, long, lingering thing but it's just a little bit of a maintenance thing right now," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Obviously he's out tonight and we'll just see how he feels when he gets off the ice here today. We want to just make sure that he gets the rest that's required here and gets himself feeling back closer to 100 percent.

"He always wants to play so that's not an easy thing to do [sit out]. He wants to be out here; especially a game like this tonight. He's a competitor and it's hard for those guys not to be playing."

Blues (23-12-4) forward Vladimir Tarasenko, tied for second in the League with 22 goals, did not take part in the morning skate but coach Ken Hitchcock said he will be in the lineup.

The Blues have won six of their past eight games (6-2-0) and will look for their sixth win in their past seven home games. It's also their fourth straight game against a fellow Central Division team.

"No space," Hitchcock said when describing games against the Wild. "Neither team gives you much. You've got to earn it. Not a lot of scoring chances. Both teams have groups of forwards that work for the defense. You have to stay really patient. And if you don't stay patient then you end up making mistakes and you pay for it. Both teams are pretty honest teams that play an honest game. They're not easy for either team to play in."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Thomas Vanek - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Jarret Stoll - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Zach Parise (lower body), Darcy Kuemper (concussion)

Scratched: None


Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi - David Backes - Troy Brouwer

Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Dmitrij Jaskin

Jordan Caron - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Colton Parayko - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Steve Ott (hamstring)

Scratched: Joel Edmundson, Scottie Upshall

Status report: With Parise out, Scandella will move into his spot on the Wild's No. 1 power-play unit. … Backstrom will back up Dubnyk with Kuemper out for a four-game trip that starts Thursday. … Fontaine will enter the lineup in Parise's absence. … Berglund skated in Tarasenko's spot Thursday morning and Hitchcock did not rule out his return for the Blues' next game, Jan. 2 at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Who's hot: Koivu has seven goals and 20 assists in 38 games against the Blues. … Tarasenko has four goals and one assist in the past four games against the Wild. … Steen has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak against the Wild. … Backes has four goals and three assists) in the past six games against the Wild.

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