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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Vancouver

Minnesota plays first game of weekend back-to-back Saturday in St. Paul

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

Who: Vancouver Canucks (29-35-9, 67 points, sixth place, Pacific Division) at Minnesota Wild (44-23-6, 94 points, second place, Central Division)

Puck drop: 1:08 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

Because of the early faceoff time at Xcel Energy Center, the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks will not skate Saturday morning. 

The Wild is expecting the return to the lineup of defenseman Christian Folin, who missed the past three weeks with an upper-body injury. 

Folin, who was hurt March 5 against the San Jose Sharks, gives the Wild a much needed physical presence on the back end and helps even out the handed-ness of Minnesota's defensive corps. The righty Folin is likely to see time next to countryman Jonas Brodin, a pairing that was outstanding earlier this season before Folin sustained a lower-body injury that knocked him from the lineup for nearly a month.

"He's a big defenseman that can play physical when he's on top of his game," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "We certainly could use that."

While there was an adjustment period for Folin after returning from that injury, he was able to see plenty of time on the ice, so fitness shouldn't be an issue this time around. 

"It's gonna be great to get back out there," Folin said. "I've been putting in a lot of hard work. It's been a tough almost three weeks, but I'm ready."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Charlie Coyle - Eric Staal - Zach Parise

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter - Martin Hanzal - Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart - Erik Haula - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Darcy Kuemper

Devan Dubnyk
 

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Michael Chaput

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Jack Skille - Brandon Sutter - Reid Boucher

Joseph Labate - Drew Shore - Alex Biega

Alexander Edler - Troy Stetcher

Luca Sbisa - Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton - Nikita Tryamkin

Richard Bachman

Ryan Miller


The opponent

Eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoff chase in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks are playing for nothing but pride. Bo Horvat has established himself as one of the NHL's up-and-coming stars and leads the club with 20 goals and 47 points. Burnsville native Brock Boeser, who played for the University of North Dakota in a 4-3 overtime loss in the NCAA Tournament in Fargo on Friday, was reportedly ready to sign his entry level contract with the Canucks and could make his NHL debut for the club that drafted him in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.


Connections

• Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson played 27 games with the Canucks in 1998-99. 

• Wild goaltending coach Bob Mason played in six games with Vancouver from 1990-91. 


Magic touch

Minnesota's magic number to clinch a fifth straight berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs is two points -- any combination of Wild points gained or points lost by Los Angeles. The Kings host the New York Rangers Saturday at 9:30 p.m. CT.

Back to back

Saturday, Minnesota begins its 13th of 14 sets of back-to-back games this season before visiting Detroit Sunday afternoon. The Wild is 7-3-2 on the first day of play and 6-4-2 on the second day of action. Minnesota played 15 sets of back-to-back games last season, posting a 7-6-2 record in game one and going 5-7-3 in the second game.

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