Tonight, the Minnesota Wild looks to keep its home-unbeaten (in regulation) streak going against one of the hottest road teams in the National Hockey League, the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Wild is 3-0-2 at home this season, including wins in three straight. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes own a 3-1-0 road record with three-straight wins. Winning on the road in the NHL is difficult and, for some reason or another, some teams just play better away from the home barn, and the Canes just seem to be one of those teams right now. Maybe for Carolina, it’s getting away from all that delicious Southern Barbeque weighing the players down.
Making his first appearance on the ice with teammates at today’s morning skate was Charlie Coyle. The forward has been skating and rehabbing, but today was the first time practicing with the Wild since suffering a knee sprain on Oct. 8. Speaking to the media after practice, Coyle said it was just one of those freak injuries and he is anxious to return, but doesn’t want to rush things. There is no timetable for his return to game action, but Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said Coyle needs to get into practice and repetitions with contact before they start to consider a inserting him back into the lineup.
No real update on fellow second-year player, Jonas Brodin, who suffered a broken cheekbone on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators. Yeo did say that Brodin was going to skate but the staff decided to keep him off for another day; at that point, FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg’s eyes nearly came out of his sockets and jaw just about hit the floor in shock. Yeo said he thinks Brodin will skate tomorrow, with a full mask of course.
As for the Wild in the lineup tonight, not much change to report from yesterday. The lines and D-pairs are the same.
Keep an eye on the fourth line of Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell and Stephane Veilleux. The checking line has been playing well, bringing energy and creating chances off a relentless forecheck. In the past few games, the line has pinned the opposing team in the defensive zone for entire shifts, leading to icings and allowing the next line on the ice to keep the momentum going against tired legs. Veilleux talked to WildTV about the line and what they need to do tonight against Carolina.
On the blue line, Mathew Dumba will enter the lineup with Brodin out and is paired with Clayton Stoner. This is Dumba’s seventh game of the season, which means he can play in two more games before he can be returned to his junior team without his NHL contract kicking in. If the Dumba skates in more than nine games, he still can be returned to his junior team, but the first year of his contract goes into effect and the player could reach free agency at an accelerated pace. Plus, once sent down after the nine-game mark, he can't be recalled during that season, except under emergency conditions.
With Brodin out, the blueliners in the lineup will have more responsibility and Yeo thinks the team has eight capable defenseman who can handle the load. One of those blueliners is Nate Prosser, who will skate in his third game. Prosser spoke to WildTV about keeping a good attitude when not in the lineup and making the best of the opportunity.
Off the ice, the team is hosting Harding’s Hope Night. All fans will receive a Josh Harding Masterton Trophy poster. The Masterton Trophy, which Harding won last season, will be at Xcel Energy Center and fans can view and take photos with it while visiting the Harding’s Hope information table on the lower concourse. Tonight’s game is presented by Treasure Island.
For those not going, the game will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com. I’ll also be live-tweeting @mnwildLIVE.