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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at San Jose

Wild makes 2017 debut on the front end of three-game trip through California

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The Essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (23-9-4, 50 points, second place, Central Division) at San Jose Sharks (23-13-2, 48 points, first place, Pacific Division)

Puck drop: 9:30 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North; FOX Sports GOWild Watch Bar Locations; NHL.TV

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


The Opponent

The San Jose Sharks, tied with the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division, will be looking to get back on track after losing twice to the Los Angeles Kings over the past four days. Prior to that, San Jose had been riding a four-game winning streak. The defending Western Conference champions have still compiled a 7-2-1 record over their past 10 games, led by former Wild defenseman Brent Burns, who leads the club with 35 points. One-time Wisconsin Badger Joe Pavelski is right behind him with 34 points on 12 goals and 22 assists. Joe Thornton has just two goals in 38 games but has dished out 23 helpers.


Connections

• Wild forward Charlie Coyle was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft. 

• Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2003 NHL Draft and had 183 points in 453 games with the Wild from 2003-11.

• Sharks defenseman Justin Braun is from Vadnais Heights and played high school hockey at White Bear Lake.

• Sharks defenseman Paul Martin is an Elk River native who played three seasons for the University of Minnesota.

• Sharks forward Joel Ward made his NHL debut with the Wild in 2006-07 and played 11 games for Minnesota.


Minnesota Nice

The Wild has earned points in 17 of its last 19 games (14-2-3) dating back to Nov. 21. In that span, Minnesota has outscored its opponents 69-44, scoring at least four goals in eight of those contests and allowing two goals or less in 12 of those games. The Wild has gone 11 for 49 (22.5 percent) on the power play while successfully killing 46 of 54 (85.2 percent) of its opponent power plays


At the Rink

The Minnesota Wild will be back in action for the first time in 2017 when it begins a three-game road trip at SAP Center against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

It's Minnesota's first game in five days after its 12-game winning streak was snapped in a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. A day off, an outdoor practice, two regular practices and a morning skate have allowed the Wild time to work on parts of its game that have been slipping in recent contests. 

"It gave us a chance to reset and get three practices in," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "We were starting to get into some bad habits before the Columbus game and that's usually what happens at the end of a winning streak. Hopefully we got a chance to get better with a couple of skates and we're ready to play again."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Pregame at San Jose

Forward Jordan Schroeder has started each of the past three games on the fourth line only to be elevated to a top-line role midway through the game. Tonight, he will start with Zach Parise and Eric Staal on the top line as Jason Pominville shifts to the fourth line with Chris Stewart and Tyler Graovac.

While two full practices isn't a bunch of time, Schroeder said it could be enough to help smooth the transition, allowing the group to jell from the start of the game.

"Just the way [the puck] comes off their sticks; [Staal] is such a good playmaker, trying to get into those open lanes and open areas," Schroeder said. "Obviously, we know what Zach brings. I'm just going to try and play my part and not think too much."

Schroeder has had success in previous stays with the Wild, especially during the first few games of a call up. The key this time to more sustained good play will be in sticking with what earned him a boost to the top line.

"Sometimes in these situations, guys can change their game when they are moved up," Schroeder said. "I can't, I've gotta just keep doing what I've been doing, just keep skating, making plays and working hard."

Video: Wild Pregame at San Jose

Defenseman Nate Prosser was off the ice early this morning and is expected to slot in on the Wild's third defensive pairing in place of Christian Folin. 

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Jordan Schroeder

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Charlie Coyle

Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Jason Pominville

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

 

SHARKS

Timo Meier - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Kevin Labanc - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Patrick Marleau - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Michael Haley - Tommy Wingels - Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Dylan DeMelo - Mirco Mueller

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

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