As recently as the 2012-13 season, the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks saw a lot of each other in the Northwest Division. But realignment did away with that, and though they still play in the same conference, the Wild and Canucks play each other far less frequently.
"Maybe we're a little less familiar, but it's a Western Conference team," Ryan Carter said. "We know what they're about."
The Wild may not play the Canucks as often as the Chicago Blackhawks, or the St. Louis Blues, but that doesn't mean the gameplan is any different.
"You have to make sure that you find a way to make it a division game, and make it that same level," Jason Zucker said. "A few short years ago [Vancouver] won the President's Trophy, twice in a row. They still have pretty close to the same team.
"They always bring a good lineup, and they'll bring that tonight, too."
In games like these, video can become important in terms of scouting certain areas of an opponent. But it's finding the right balance of how to effectively use video, and how to stay within a structure.
"Video in general is tough because you watch video, and see what they do, but at the same time, if we do our system, it should counteract theirs in a way," Zucker said. "Realistically we're just worrying about our game, and playing our style, and if we do that we'll be all right."
What that video supports, and what every player and Head Coach Mike Yeo brought up is the challenge of defending Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. The twin brothers, who play on the same line, are first and second on the Canucks in scoring, respectively.
"Just the way they read off each other. It's the little plays they make," Yeo said. "You don’t want to give them time and space, you don't want to give them opportunities to set up easily, and so when you find yourself pressuring, they're able to break that pressure, and make little plays, and catch you out of position."
At even-strength, on home ice, it's generally Mikko Koivu's line with Zucker and Nino Niederreiter that is tasked with matching up against the other team's top trio.
Lately, the Sedin's have been joined by right-winger Jannik Hansen.
"Those two have great chemistry, and whoever is playing with them typically joins in on that chemistry pretty quickly," Zucker said. "They're two great players, and if we're up against them tonight it will be a great test."
Carter said where video does come in handy is special teams. The Wild is coming off a 4-0 shutout against the Nashville Predators in which its PK went 2-for-2.
"We know the Sedins, they like to make plays, and they know where each other are at all times," Carter said. "You have to be awake, head on a swivel. Right when you think you got them, he's actually maybe got you. You watch those tendencies on video."
With forward Jordan Schroeder sick, and according to Yeo, very unlikely to play on Wednesday, the Wild recalled Christoph Bertschy from Iowa.
Bertschy made his NHL debut Nov. 7 in a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bertschy was recalled again and played against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-2, overtime victory.
"What I like is through this stretch we haven’t made any excuses," Yeo said of the recent illness the Wild has battled. "Regardless of who's in the lineup, we think we have a capable group here, and so we just have to do the same tonight."
Here is the Wild's projected lineup:
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Nino Niederreiter
Thomas Vanek – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter – Charlie Coyle – Christoph Bertschy
Chris Porter – Erik Haula – Kurtis Gabriel
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Nate Prosser – Marco Scandella