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Jones debuts, Brodin back for Wild

Minnesota continues battle for wild card against Toronto

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

WILD (29-25-10) at MAPLE LEAFS (21-31-10)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, SNO, NHL.TV

TORONTO -- David Jones feels like he has been born again.

The 31-year-old left wing will play his first game with the Minnesota Wild against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Thursday. Jones was acquired by the Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Calgary Flames and is excited to be with a team that could go to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's a real nice change," Jones said. "There are a great group of guys in Calgary, but things didn't go the way we wanted this year. For me I just want to get back to the (Stanley Cup) Playoffs and play for that Cup. It's a great opportunity for me."

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jones had nine goals and 15 points in 59 games with the Flames. He ranked second on the Flames in hits with 115. Jones will skate on a line with center Mikael Granlund and right wing Thomas Vanek.

"I get to play with two real good players and I'm looking forward to it," Jones said. "I'm not going to change anything I do and hopefully I can complement those guys. They are both skilled players so I'll do my best to create loose pucks for them."

The Wild will welcome back defenseman Jonas Brodin, who missed 13 games with a broken foot. Forward Jason Zucker, who has missed five games with a concussion, will likely continue to sit. Brodin and Zucker each practiced Wednesday.

The Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 on Tuesday. In doing so they pulled even with Colorado in points with 68 and currently hold the tiebreaker over the Avalanche in the standings for the second wild card spot into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

The Maple Leafs lost 3-2 against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. They have lost three in a row and four of their past five games.

Toronto has a number of players in the lineup from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and coach Mike Babcock said they have the opportunity to grow as players.

"It's an everyday League and you have to play," Babcock said. "It's a great opportunity for us. We didn't skate this morning so we should have energy tonight. We have been close (in games), but we don't win. You play in the League to win."

Babcock said the Maple Leafs did a lot of good things against the Capitals. He said the biggest challenge for young players such as William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, each 19, is learning to work and compete every day.

"The guy across from you feeds his family," Babcock said. "When you first arrive in the League you don't have a wife and kids. Then when you have a wife and kids you understand what responsibility is and so you want your job. You understand that you have to compete for your job. When you are a kid you always think you are going to get the puck back. As you get older you know it's too hard to get it back so you hang on to it all the time."

Here are the projected lineups:

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
David Jones - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter - Jarret Stoll - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba
Mike Reilly - Jonas Brodin

Devan Dubnyk
Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Jason Zucker (concussion)
Scratched: Nate Prosser, Chris Porter

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Nikita Soshnikov
Michael Grabner - William Nylander - Zach Hyman
Colin Greening - Ben Smith - Brooks Laich
Kasperi Kapanen - Peter Holland - Brendan Leipsic

Matt Hunwick - Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner - Frank Corrado
Martin Marincin - Connor Carrick

Garret Sparks
Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Byron Froese, PA Parenteau
Injured: Stephane Robidas (lower body), Joffrey Lupul (middle body), James van Riemsdyk (foot fracture), Jared Cowen (hip tightness), Tyler Bozak (upper body), Milan Michalek (upper body), Brad Boyes (upper body)

Status report: The Maple Leafs recalled Leipsic from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

Who's hot: Coyle had two goals against the Avalanche on Tuesday and has 11 goals in his past 18 games. … Haula scored against Colorado and has a career-high nine goals and 23 points and leads the Wild with a plus-16. … Pominville has 12 points in his past eight games. … Soshnikov scored his first NHL goal on Wednesday.

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