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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Columbus

Wild concludes quick two-game road trip Thursday against Blue Jackets

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

Who: Minnesota Wild (41-14-6, 88 points, first place, Central Division) at Columbus Blue Jackets (39-16-6, 84 points, second place, Metropolitan Division)

Puck drop: 6:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North; FOX Sports GoWild Watch Bar locationsNHL.TV

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


At the rink

The Minnesota Wild is expected to have defenseman Ryan Suter available when it finishes a two-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Suter was injured late in the first period of the Wild's game Tuesday in Winnipeg. He finished the rest of the period but was not on the bench over the final 40 minutes.

The club had off-ice meetings on Wednesday and Suter was on the ice for morning skate. He said he was feeling great.

"Seeing him out there skating, he looks fine to me, so I anticipate him playing," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.

One of the most durable players in the NHL, Suter has played in 82 games five times in his career, and he played in all 48 games of the lockout-shortened 2013 season. 

Two years ago, when mumps first went through the Wild dressing room, he missed just one game.

Since coming to Minnesota, Suter has played in all but five games, including one at the end of the 2014-15 season where he was healthy scratched when the team had nothing to gain at the end of the season. 

"He's old school, there's no doubt in my mind," Boudreau said. "He's tough. He's a tough farmer."

Having Suter back will certainly be a boon to the Wild lineup, one that has surrendered nine goals over the past two games. As one of the stingiest defensive teams in the League this season, Minnesota will try to get back to its bread and butter on Thursday.

The team meetings on Wednesday included plenty of video work to try to shore up that end of the ice.

"We [need to] work on fine tuning our game, positionally," said Wild defenseman Marco Scandella. "We don't have a lot of practices [the rest of the season], so we're gonna have to be doing a lot of video and making sure we're really tight. That's our identity, playing good defense, and we're going to have to start bringing that back into our game because we've been allowing too many goals lately."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Jordan Schroeder

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Erik Haula - Martin Hanzal - Charlie Coyle

Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Ryan White

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

BLUE JACKETS

Nick Foligno - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell - Sam Gagner - Brandon Saad

Lauri Korpikoski - William Karlsson - Josh Anderson

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Kyle Quincey - Ryan Murray

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo
 


The opponent

Columbus, which snapped Minnesota's franchise-record 12-game winning streak back on New Year's Eve, is 13-11-2 since that game. The Blue Jackets lost a heartbreaker in overtime the last time out, dropping a 1-0 game to Montreal at the Bell Centre on Tuesday. Forward Cam Atkinson is in the midst of a career season, standing one goal shy of his first 30-goal campaign. His 29 goals are sixth-most in the NHL. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has 32 victories, second-most in the League behind Devan Dubnyk (34).


Road warriors

On Tuesday, Minnesota played its first road game in 21 days. Despite the recent absence of road games, the Wild is tied for first in the NHL with 43 road points this season, ranking second in road victories (19-6-5). The Wild has points in 17 of its last 18 road games, going 15-1-2 during that stretch. Minnesota saw its franchise-record 14-game road point streak end Feb. 1 at Calgary - a streak that dated back to Dec. 2 and was the longest in the NHL since 2015. Thursday's game is the second in a span where the Wild plays seven of nine games on the road (Feb. 28-March 16).

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