It’s time to get Rocky Mountain high tonight, as the Minnesota Wild skates gain traction on Central Division rival, Colorado Avalanche.
Tonight’s contest marks the fifth and final meeting between the Wild and Avs. Minnesota has enjoyed its time in the Pepsi Center recently. This season, the club is 1-0-1 in Colorado and is 13-2-3 in its last 18 games in Denver.
Coming into the contest, the Wild and Avalanche have matching records in 2014, at 9-3-1. With the Wild seven points behind its division rival, there are a critical two points on the line.
In its last outing, the Wild was using its speed effectively in a 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks, drawing four power play opportunities through sheer hard work. Minnesota will take that same approach into tonight’s game against a speedy Colorado club.
Torrey Mitchell, who turns 29 today, spoke to WildTV about the need for the club to move their feet to create offensive opportunities. Minnesota will try to keep the pressure on Colorado low, so that its skilled forwards can’t get out in transition.
Minnesota will go with the same lineup as its last outing. The club has been engaged physically, especially against Anaheim, and Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo likes the way the club has responded to the rough play.
Netminder Darcy Kuemper will get his ninth-straight start, setting a franchise record for a rookie. The goaltender’s hot play has bred confidence, in both himself and his teammates. The way Kuemper has been playing lifts a big burden off the rest of the team’s shoulders and is able get into its game.
That game has been predicated on a strong defensive-minded system, but the Wild has been pouring it on offensively in 2014. In 13 games, Minnesota has scored 35 goals in January and is a plus-9 in goal differential. Compare that to 14 contests in December, where the club scored 27 goals.
Spurgeon Returns To Practice
At the club’s morning skate, the Wild welcomed defenseman Jared Spurgeon back onto the ice, as he practiced with the team for the first time since Jan. 12. While Spurgeon won’t be in the lineup tonight, he is possible for the club’s Saturday game against the Calgary Flames. It will depend on how he reacts to contact at tomorrow’s practice.