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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Nashville

Brodin could return to lineup as Wild hosts Predators on Saturday

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

Who: Nashville Predators (27-21-8, 62 points, fourth place, Central Division) at Minnesota Wild (38-13-6, 82 points, first place, Central Division)

Puck drop: 7:08 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 coming off a pair games with conflicting results earlier this week. The Wild played a very solid game against Anaheim, but was not rewarded in a 1-0 loss. Its game slipped a bit two nights later, but Minnesota left with two points against Dallas.

With two critical games left before embarking on its bye week, the Wild will try to put together a strong effort on Saturday and get two more when it plays the Nashville Predators.

"The Anaheim game, we played well, we generated a lot and we just didn't get rewarded," said Wild forward Jason Pominville. "It was kind of the opposite [against Dallas], we didn't play the way we wanted to, weren't skating like we usually do. We want to make sure we get back to the way we like to play, and get back to it early."

Minnesota hopes to take advantage of the fact that Nashville hasn't played in five days because of its bye week. Teams across the League have struggled following the bye, posting a 3-9-2 record the first time back on the ice.

"I'm certainly not going to say, 'Teams off the bye week have struggled, so let's take it easy,'" said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "These guys will be ready for us. We're looking at them as a well-rested, healthy team. They're one of the few teams that have beaten us in this building and we know our hands are full."

The Wild could be in position to get some help against the Predators with the potential return of defenseman Jonas Brodin. 

Brodin began taking slap shots in practice two days ago, a major step in his recovery from a fractured finger sustained against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 17. He was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, but that move was simply to free up a roster spot. 

If Brodin is cleared to play by doctors, the Wild will need to activate him from IR on Saturday afternoon.

Matt Dumba also skated and could be ahead of schedule in his return from a lower-body injury. Boudreau indicated earlier in the week that Dumba wasn't likely to return until after the bye week, but said he looked good during morning skate and, depending on how things go at practice on Monday, that he could return for the game Tuesday against Chicago.

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise - Charlie Coyle - Alex Tuch

Chris Stewart - Erik Haula - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Gustav Olofsson - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

PREDATORS

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson

Colin Wilson - Calle Jarnkrok - James Neal

Austin Watson - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith

Harry Zolnierczyk - Vernon Fiddler - Colton Sissons

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros
 


The opponent

The Predators are coming off their five-day bye week and will play the first of back-to-back road games this weekend; Nashville will play in Columbus on Sunday afternoon. At 3-3-0 since the beginning of the month, the Preds are 20 points behind the Wild in the Central Division standings but have one game in hand. The road team has won all three games in the season series, with Nashville leaving St. Paul with a 4-2 win on Jan. 22. The teams complete their season series in the Music City on April 1.


Connections

• Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was the seventh overall pick by Nashville in the 2003 NHL Draft. He scored 238 points in 542 games for the Predators from 2005-12. 

• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk played in two games for Nashville in 2014. 

• Predators assistant coach Phil Housley is a native of South St. Paul and is the former head coach at Stillwater Area High School.


Pace race

The Wild's 82 points are its most through 57 games in franchise history, surpassing 68 points in 2007-08 (32-21-4). It's the fastest the Wild has ever hit 82 points, previously after Game 69 (2014-15, 2013-14, 2006-07). Minnesota's 38 wins equal its total from last season, just five points shy of its full-season total (38-33-11). Last season, the Wild earned its 38th win in Game 77 on March 29.

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