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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at St. Louis

Wild begins stretch of five-straight road games on Saturday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The Essentials
Who: Minnesota Wild (11-7-2, 24 points, third place, Central Division) at St. Louis Blues (11-7-3, 25 points, second place, Central Division)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. CT
Watch: FOX Sports North; FOX Sports GOWild Watch Bar LocationsNHL.TV

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

The Opponent

The St. Louis Blues have been off since a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in the nation's capital. Winning at Scottrade Center will be tough; the Blues have an 8-1-1 mark on home ice this season, tied for the second-most home ice victories in the NHL. One of those wins came on Opening Night, when St. Louis scored a 3-2 win over the Wild. Nail Yakupov had a goal and an assist in the game, while Ryan Suter and Charlie Coyle scored for the Wild.


Connections

• Wild forward Chris Stewart scored 63 goals and 115 points in 211 games over four seasons with the Blues from 2011-2014.

• Wild assistant coach Scott Stevens skated one season for the Blues, scoring five goals and 49 points in 1990-91. 

• Blues associate coach Mike Yeo compiled a 173-132-44 record as the Wild's head coach from 2011 until last February.

• Blues assistant coach Rick Wilson served in the same role with Minnesota from 2010 through the end of last season.

• Blues forward Kyle Brodziak spent six seasons in a Wild sweater (2009-15), scoring 169 points, including 72 goals in 446 games.


Road Trippin'

The game against the Blues kicks off a stretch of five-straight games on the road for Minnesota. Wild players will return to Minnesota following the game and enjoy a team day off on Sunday before embarking on a four-game, 10-day road trip spent entirely in Canada. The Wild will begin the trip Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks and play games in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto before returning home to play the Oilers on Dec. 9.


At the Rink

Because of the Wild's game on Friday in St. Paul, a 6-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the team had a limited morning skate in St. Louis on Saturday.

There will likely be just two changes to the lineup, with goaltender Darcy Kuemper stepping into the crease and defenseman Nate Prosser filling in for injured blue liner Christian Folin.

Folin was hurt in the first period on Friday and had an MRI after the game to determine the severity. The club announced afterward that he is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained left MCL. 

It's a big loss for the Wild, which has been unable to maintain a full complement of defensemen for more than a few games this season. 

First, Jared Spurgeon missed several games with an upper-body injury last month. Marco Scandella was hurt in the final game before Spurgeon's return and missed the next 10 games with a high ankle sprain. 

Scandella has played in just two games and now the Wild will be without Folin for up to a month.

Folin hasn't chipped in much offensively but has been a steadying force on the defensive end. He is tied for third on the team with a plus-8 and is one of the few defensemen on the club with size.

Along with Jonas Brodin, who is off to perhaps the best start of his career, the two Swedes have formed a reliable second pairing behind Spurgeon and Ryan Suter.

"He's going to be missed. He's a big bodied guy that we could definitely use," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said after Friday's game. "No matter how you cut it, he's going to be missed, whether it's a short time or a long time."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Zack Mitchell - Tyler Graovac - Chris Stewart

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Devan Dubnyk

BLUES

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - David Perron

Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - Ty Rattie

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Robert Bortuzzo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

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