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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Anaheim

Wild and Ducks cap Hockey Day Minnesota festivities

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

Who: Anaheim Ducks (26-13-9, 61 points, first place, Pacific Division) at Minnesota Wild (29-10-5, 63 points, first place, Central Division)

Puck drop: 8:08 p.m. CT

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

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

Video: Wild Pregame vs Anaheim

The Opponent

Winners in five of their past six games, the Anaheim Ducks have been red hot since losing to the Wild on Jan. 8, posting a 5-0-1 record during that stretch, with its lone loss coming last Sunday in a 2-1 overtime defeat to the Blues. The Ducks defeated Colorado 2-1 in Anaheim on Thursday, a win that capped a three-game homestand. Anaheim will play at Winnipeg on Monday before returning home to play Edmonton in its final game before the All-Star break. 


Connections

• Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was head coach of the Ducks for parts of five seasons between 2011-16, compiling a record of 208-104-40, and helped Anaheim to four-straight Pacific Division titles.

• Wild forward Chris Stewart played in 56 games with the Ducks last season, scoring eight goals and 20 points.

• Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner was a third-round pick of the Wild in 2004 and had 31 points with Minnesota between 2009-14. 


Hockey Day Minnesota

Saturday marks the 11th annual Hockey Day Minnesota on FOX Sports North. The Wild is 7-2-1 all-time on Hockey Day Minnesota. The day includes 18 hours of hockey-related programmingon the Wild's television partner, FOX Sports North PLUS and FOX Sports GO. In addition to several inspirational features and reports from tournaments, pick-up games and Hockey Day gatherings across The State of Hockey, coverage will center on six live games: three outdoor high school games from a specially-constructed outdoor rink in Stillwater's Lowell Park, two college matchups and the Wild-Ducks meeting in primetime.


At the Rink

Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise didn't really know what Hockey Day Minnesota was until after he signed with the club on July 4, 2013, playing his first career game with the Wild on Hockey Day in 2013.

Since returning to his home state a handful of years ago, Parise said he has learned to truly appreciate the annual celebration of hockey here.

"It's a neat day. You see all those outdoor games for all the kids that are playing," Parise said. "I know for us, it's a fun game. There always seems to be a really good atmosphere in our rink on this day."

Before the team hit the ice for morning skate, Parise said the guys were talking about Nate Prosser's game-winning goal in overtime against the Dallas Stars on Hockey Day Minnesota in 2014. Ironically, the day's events emanated from Elk River, Prosser's hometown, providing one of Hockey Day's greatest moments in the decade-plus the event has been running.

"We were talking this morning and about how much fun that was," Parise said. "It's a fun game for us to play."

After three prep games and two college games, the Wild and Ducks will cap festivities at Xcel Energy Center in what should be a close game. Nine of the past 12 games played by the teams in St. Paul have been decided by one goal, and the previous meeting between the clubs, 13 days ago in Southern California, finished with the Wild leaving town with a 2-1 victory.

It will be Wild coach Bruce Boudreau's second time facing his former team, which will make things a little more normal this time around. 

"I told somebody last week that I wish we didn't play them at all quite frankly," Boudreau said. "Not only are they a good team but I don't like playing against guys I really like. There are a lot of players over there that I really grew fond of."

One of those players is Ryan Getzlaf, who didn't play two weeks ago in Anaheim but has since returned to the lineup. Getzlaf, the Ducks' captain, has just six goals in 41 game this season but has 28 assists and always seems to cause problems for Minnesota. Getzlaf has 33 points in 38 career matches against the Wild.

"Quite frankly I was in awe," Boudreau said of his return to Anaheim. "And I did the same thing in Washington, was in awe of how good these guys are. You don't realize it when they're with you because you look at their faults and say oh man, they should be doing this, they should be doing that. And then when you're playing against them, you say, man these guys are great."

The Wild was given the day off on Friday, so lines could look similar to how Thursday's game against the Coyotes finished up, with Jason Pominville on the third line with Parise and Erik Haula.

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD 

Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Zach Parise - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon 

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

DUCKS

Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Logan Shaw

Nick Ritchie - Antoine Vermette - Ondrej Kase

Joseph Cramarossa - Corey Tropp - Jared Boll

Cam Fowler - Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Kevin Bieksa - Shea Theodore

John Gibson

Jonathan Bernier

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