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Wild, Kuemper Skate To Secure Net Against Sharks

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild
Walking over to Xcel Energy Center for the Minnesota Wild’s morning skate, before the club takes on the San Jose Sharks at 7 p.m., the Lighthouse navigated past a number of large fishing vessels at the Saint Paul RiverCentre for 45th Annual Minnesota Sportsmen’s Boat, Camping & Vacation Show. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it could be an omen that the Wild hosts the Sharks as vendors setup next door. Regardless, if you’re a deep-sea angler, the Wild or police chief Martin Brody, there are plenty of bigger boats available in Saint Paul.

Tonight’s contest is a rubber match between the two clubs, with the teams splitting wins on home ice. The Wild won the first contest with a 4-3 shootout victory at Xcel Energy Center Oct. 30 while the Sharks won the second 2-1 at SAP Center at San Jose Dec. 11.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper will be in net and looking to bounce back after his last outing in Dallas. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Kuemper and the rest of the team needs to discard the game against the Stars from memory, like a shady corporation dumping industrial waste out at sea.   

“Let’s write the Dallas game off completely,” Yeo said. “I’m hoping that him, like our team, is able to remove that game and make sure we’re focused on a lot of the other good things we’ve been doing.”

The team’s bench boss said that he liked Kuemper’s game following the holiday break, with the exception of the blip against the Stars. In the three games after Christmas, Kuemper went 2-1-0 with a 1.68 goals against average and .944 save percentage. Yeo said that he wants to give Kuemper a chance to shake of the Lone Star State Outing. 

“There’s always lessons to be had,” Yeo said. “But given the schedule that I think we had at that time, not one to make excuses, but we’re just going to throw that one in the garbage.”

The Wild will attempt to go from starboard to port against the Sharks. San Jose is playing on back-to-back, last night edging the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre, 3-2. Blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored with 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation for the Fins win.

Prosser Out

Defenseman Nate Prosser is the latest victim of the virus that is circulating the Wild’s locker room like toilet water swirling around the bowl.

“It’s his turn,” Yeo said. “I say that jokingly because I’d like it to end.” Hopefully he’s the latest casualty and virus gets fully flushed out of the room. We’re not joking.

“We have to overcome these things,” Yeo said. “But it seems like it always happens on a game day.”

Falk Recalled

Minnesota has recalled defenseman Justin Falk from Iowa of the American Hockey League. The 26-year-old has played in nine games with the Wild this season.

Bickel On PIMs And Forward/Defense

Stu Bickel has been shifted from forward to defense a number of times this season. With Prosser out of the lineup, the bruising utility man was paired with Christian Folin at the team’s morning skate. 

“I’ve gotten used to the transition either way,” Bickel said. Lately it hasn’t been too difficult for me, either way.” 

On Saturday, he played wing against Dallas and racked up 39 penalty minutes during a melee where he had to fight off two Stars, Jason Demers and Trevor Daley. Somehow, Demers and Daley only received 15 minutes (all assessed to Demers) during the kerfuffle. 

“I think that would be a high for anybody,” Bickel laughed when asked if it was a PIM high for him.

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