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From the Rink: Granlund out, Stalock in for Wild at Carolina

Minnesota to be without last season's leading scorer against Hurricanes on Saturday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Wild will be without forward Mikael Granlund when it plays the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at PNC Arena.

The injury is not believed to be serious, according to coach Bruce Boudreau, who said the goal is to take care of the ailment now with a hole in the schedule. Boudreau said he expects Granlund to be available on Thursday when Minnesota plays the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. 

"That's the reason I think that he's not playing today," Boudreau said. "We've got a week off after this, so there's no sense just chasing the injury all night long, all year long. Get rid of it early in the year so he's healthy to go."

Granlund led the Wild with 69 points last season and was second on the club with 26 goals. He played in each of the first 81 games of the regular season and was a healthy scratch the final night of the campaign because Minnesota had nothing to play for. 

It's the only game Granlund has missed in each of the past two seasons.

"You're missing your leading scorer, probably last year's [team] MVP. It's a dent in our lineup for sure," Boudreau said. "But every team's going to go through it, so you just got to persevere and somebody's got to step up. I've always believed one guy goes out, somebody comes in and steps up to do the job."

With Granlund out of the lineup, the Wild will dress seven defensemen, meaning Gustav Olofsson will be in. He will not skate with the forwards, however, as Boudreau indicated he will be inclined to simply rotate a different forward through a fourth-line spot.

The move will result in some significant shuffling, however. Jason Zucker, the left wing with Granlund and Mikko Koivu, will play with Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart. Marcus Foligno, who was on that line Thursday in Detroit, will skate with Koivu and Tyler Ennis. 

Video: Wild Pregame at Carolina

The Wild will also make a change in goal as Alex Stalock is expected to get the start against the Hurricanes.

With the first set of back-to-back games still two weeks away, and just four games in the first 16 days of the regular season, Boudreau thought it was important to get Stalock a start so he wasn't going three weeks between his final action of the preseason and a start in the regular season.

"I'm excited. In the time I've been [in the NHL], I don't know if I've gotten in this early in the season," Stalock said. "With our schedule, there's not a back-to-back for awhile, so getting in there is huge."

Stalock said it will be fun going against Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk, who, like Stalock, is from South St. Paul and played college hockey at Minnesota Duluth.

"[Faulk] is a real good family friend of ours," Stalock said. "I've known him since he was pretty much putting skates on. I played with his older brother growing up in youth hockey. It'll be exciting and I'm sure there will be people in South St. Paul watching."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Marcus Foligno - Mikko Koivu - Tyler Ennis

Jason Zucker - Joel Eriksson Ek - Chris Stewart

Daniel Winnik - Matt Cullen

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Kyle Quincey

Gustav Olofsson

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk

HURRICANES

Elias Lindholm - Jordan Staal - Sebastian Aho

Teuvo Teravainen - Victor Rask - Justin Williams

Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Janne Kuokkanen

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Brock McGinn

Jaccob Slavin - Justin Faulk

Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Scott Darling

Cam Ward

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