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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. St. Louis

Wild hosts division rival Blues in final game before the All-Star break

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

Who: St. Louis Blues (24-19-5, 53 points, fourth place, Central Division) at Minnesota Wild (31-11-5, 67 points, first place, Central Division)

Puck drop: 7:10 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN; Wild Watch Bar Locations; NHL.TV

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

The Opponent

St. Louis broke a three-game losing streak on Tuesday with one of its most impressive wins of the season, a 3-0 whitewashing of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. The Blues begin the day 14 points behind Minnesota for the top spot in the Central Division. 


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.


Power players

Minnesota leads the NHL with a power-play success rate of 27.4 percent (17 of 62) on home ice this season. Since Dec. 15, the Wild has registered at least one power-play goal in 14 of 19 games, going 16 of 54 (29.6 percent) with the man advantage and ranking second in the NHL in power-play percentage in that span (TOR, 32.1 percent).


At the Rink

In the final game before the All-Star break, Minnesota will try to finish the virtual first half of the season on a high note. Since Dec. 2, the Wild has posted a 20-3-2 record and would like nothing more than to take two points from a Central Division rival in the last game before a three-day break.

"It's an important game," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "We're playing a divisional team that is always a difficult game. It makes it that much more important and that much easier to really focus on it. But I don't think anybody in here has thought too much about the break."

Video: Wild Pregame vs. St. Louis

Dubnyk is one of two Wild players along with coach Bruce Boudreau who will depart for Los Angeles to take part in All-Star game festivities beginning tomorrow. Boudreau will coach the Central Division team in Sunday's 3-on-3 game(s) while Dubnyk will be making his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Defenseman Ryan Suter is making his third career appearance.

"Not until tomorrow," Boudreau said when asked if he was thinking about the weekend. "[The players] have to motivate themselves. I can only do so much. One of the things we talk a lot about is self-preparedness. Tonight is one of those games.

"You look around the League, and I think Pittsburgh was ready for a holiday and Anaheim was ready for a holiday. We've gotta make sure we see those things and we're not like that."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Pregame vs. St. Louis

It should make it easier for the Wild to focus considering the opponent on Thursday is the rival Blues. Minnesota is playing its fourth game against St. Louis this season, having posted a 1-1-1 record in the previous three. The lone victory came at Xcel Energy Center, a 3-1 win here on Dec. 11.

"We can't afford to be lackadaisical. They're definitely not thinking that way," said Wild forward Chris Stewart. "They want to come in here and win before the break and we want to keep what we've been building rolling. We need to handle business here before we go on this break."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

BLUES

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Alexander Steen

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin- Patrik Berglund - David Perron

Scottie Upshall - Ivan Barbashev - Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo 

Robert Bortuzzo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko

Carter Hutton

Jake Allen

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