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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Winnipeg

Central Division rivals clash in pre-Thanksgiving feast at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The Essentials
Who: Minnesota Wild (9-7-2, 20 points, fourth place in Central) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9-10-2, 20 points, fifth place in Central Division)
Puck drop: 6:12 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 Winnipeg Jets are in the midst of a five-game road swing but are still in search of their first victory on the trip. The Jets have been outscored 12-4 in the first three games, all against Eastern Conference foes. Two bright spots this season have been rookie forward Patrik Laine and forward Mark Scheifele. Laine leads the NHL with 12 goals while Scheifele's 23 points is one behind the total of NHL leader, Connor McDavid.

Video: Wild on Rivalry with Jets


Connections

• Wild assistant coach John Anderson spent two seasons as head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers from 2008-10 before the franchise relocated to Winnipeg. 

• The Jets have three Minnesota natives on their roster, including captain Blake Wheeler (Plymouth) and defensemen Dustin Byfuglien (Roseau) and Mark Stuart (Rochester).


Early starts

If you're attending tonight's game (or even if you plan on watching or listening), remember that the puck drops a little after 6 p.m. local time tonight. The Wild wants you to get plenty of rest for turkey and football tomorrow and for Friday's Black Friday matinee against Pittsburgh, which starts just after 3 p.m.


At the Rink

Minnesota will benefit from the return of defenseman Marco Scandella, who is eligible to (and indeed will) return from long-term injured reserve tonight. It's his first game since late October, when he sustained a high ankle sprain against the Buffalo Sabres and missed the next 10 games.

"He's a good player. He can skate, he's big, he moves pucks, so that's what he brings," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. 

Tweet from @mnwild: #mnwild has activated @MarcoScandella from Injured Reserve. #WPGvsMIN

Unlike Zach Parise and Erik Haula, who each missed three weeks with injury and returned to game action after just one practice, Scandella has had the benefit of time. He has been skating for more than a week and practiced with the team on a few occasions over the past several days.

The hope is that those reps will limit the amount of rust in Scandella's game.

Boudreau said on Tuesday that although Scandella won't be thrust onto the power play immediately, there is no plan to limit his minutes otherwise.

"Some people show us lots of rust, some people they're right back into it. He's practiced hard for a week, it's not like he just became available health-wise. He's been practicing hard for a few good practices now, so he should be ready," Boudreau said. "What I'm expecting from him ... just to make sure his game is simple. Usually you're so ramped up about playing if you haven't played in a while [that] you try to do too much. If he does his job, that's more than adequate."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Pregame vs Jets

Scandella should pair with Matt Dumba, meaning Mike Reilly, who has played in each of the past seven games, will be scratched.

Winnipeg is expected to get a boost with the return of forward Drew Stafford. The former University of North Dakota star has not played since Oct. 25 because of an upper-body injury. 

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle  

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Tyler Graovac

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Zack Mitchell - Chris Stewart

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk  

Darcy Kuemper

JETS

Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Brandon Tanev - Nicolas Petan - Drew Stafford

Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Patrik Laine

Marko Dano - Alex Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn

Josh Morrissey - Dustin Byfuglien

Tobias Enstrom - Jacob Trouba 

Mark Stuart - Ben Chiarot

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

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