WINNIPEG -- Two struggling teams resume their schedule Friday when the Minnesota Wild make a return appearance to MTS Centre to face the Winnipeg Jets.
The Wild have lost three consecutive games and five of their past seven. In facing Winnipeg the Wild will conclude a stretch of seven road dates in their past eight games, a stretch that has seen them win one game away from home. Even with a three-day break to refresh, the Wild's 6-11-3 road record has left the team eager to begin remedying it.
"I think that if you're struggling a bit you just want to get back at it as fast as you can," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said.
Wild coach Mike Yeo again will be without left wing Zach Parise (lower body), who will miss his second consecutive game. Defenseman Clayton Stoner (lower body) also will not dress. Goaltender Josh Harding remains on injured reserve but participated in the team's morning skate Friday. Yeo indicated he was pleased with Harding's showing.
Nino Niederreiter will replace Parise on the Wild's top line. The Wild recalled forward Stephane Veillieux from the Iowa Wild, their American Hockey League affiliate, earlier this week and it is likely he will skate on the team's fourth line.
The Jets have had three days to process a 6-2 road loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. Jets captain Andrew Ladd used his holiday time to "refresh mentally," but a 3-6-1 slide has pushed the Jets eight points behind the Stanley Cup Playoff line in the Western Conference and they have been unable to establish any traction in the standings this month.
"It's just the frustration mounting," Ladd said of his team's situation. "Getting sick of answering questions about it, talking about, and you just want it to change."
Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian did not participate in the team's morning skate Friday. Bogosian has the flu, according to coach Claude Noel, and is not likely to dress against Minnesota. The Jets placed defenseman Grant Clitsome (back) on injured reserve Thursday, retroactive to Dec. 17, and he will miss his fourth consecutive game. The Jets recalled defenseman Julian Melchiori on Thursday from the St. John's IceCaps, their AHL affiliate, to supplement their blue line.
Bogosian's absence means Noel will juggle the Jets' defense pairings again. Keaton Ellerby, a healthy scratch for six consecutive games, will return to the lineup in a pairing with Dustin Byfuglien. Tobias Enstrom and Adam Pardy will partner for the first time this season and rookie Jacob Trouba will team with veteran Mark Stuart.
Left wing Eric Tangradi, a healthy scratch in six of the Jets' past nine games, may replace center Eric O'Dell among the team's bottom-six forwards against Minnesota.
Niklas Backstrom will make his fourth straight start in goal for the Wild and oppose Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Here are the probable lineups for the Wild and Jets:
Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Dany Heatley - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine
Stephane Veilleux - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Keith Ballard - Nate Prosser
Scratched: Mike Rupp
Injured: Josh Harding (illness), Zach Parise (lower body), Clayton Stoner (lower body)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi - James Wright – Anthony Peluso
Adam Pardy - Tobias Enstrom
Dustin Byfuglien - Keaton Ellerby
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Scratched: Julian Melchiori, Eric O'Dell
Injured: Zach Bogosian (illness), Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (forearm), Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia)