Wild and St. Louis Blues tonight in the final game before the All-Star break.
For your sake -- and theirs -- hope the Wild's not looking ahead to All-Star Weekend like I am. My focus is 100 percent on the big All-Star Game features I have planned in the Star Tribune this weekend and not tonight's game coverage.
Bruce Boudreau said he hopes the players aren't the same way and looking forward to a vacation.
"You look around the league, I think Pittsburgh was ready for a holiday yesterday (he either meant the Rangers or was referring to the Penguins being shut out at home vs. St. Louis two days ago), I thought Anaheim was ready for a holiday," Boudreau said. "We’ve got to make sure, ... we’re not like that."
Boudreau talks about self-preparedness all the time and mentioned it again this morning.
"They’ve got to motivate themselves. I can only do so much as far as getting them prepared," he said, adding it's tough not to get up for the division rival Blues.
"If we're not at our best, they’ll come and take it to us," he said.
Devan Dubnyk vs. Carter Hutton tonight.
Christian Folin looked to be the lone healthy scratch for the Wild, provided there are no health surprises tonight. The Wild held an optional today. Some forwards did miss, but as of now, no forward recalls.
There are definitely some banged up Wild players that could use the break to get fresh. Charlie Coyle has been limping around since the New Jersey gave five games ago. Ryan Suter's knee is tender since Antoine Roussel's slash. Eric Staal could probably use a respite.
Kyle Brodziak will miss five weeks for St. Louis. He has a broken foot. Ivan Barbashev will make his NHL debut in his place. He's a 2014 second-rounder who ranks second on the Chicago Wolves with 37 points (19 goals) in 44 games.
The Wild has followed a 12-1-1 December with an 8-2-1 January. The Wild leads the Western Conference and Central Division with 67 points in 47 games. Before this season, the earliest the Wild ever had that many points was after Game 57 (2002-03). The Wild, 4-1-2 in its past seven at home against St. Louis, is 1-1-1 against the Blues in this season’s series. The Blues, coming off that 3-0 win in Pittsburgh, have lost five of eight.
Dubnyk is 8-2 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. Mikael Granlund has a career-best eight-game point streak and 26 points in the past 23 games, tied for third-most in the NHL since Dec. 7. His 40 points are tied with Staal for most on the team. Zach Parise has no goals and two assists in the past nine games. Coyle has one goal in the past 14 games.
Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored six goals in six playoff games against the Wild in 2015, is tied for 12th with 20 goals. Paul Stastny leads the Blues with 37 points in 57 games against the Wild. David Perron has 18 points in 25 games vs. Minnesota.
The Blues rank 30th in the NHL with an .890 save percentage and 25th with a 3.04 goals-against average; the Wild’s tied for first with a .926 save percentage and is second with a 2.26 goals-against average. The Wild’s tied for the second-fewest regulation losses (11).
I'll have some cool All-Star Game color in tomorrow's paper on how the Wild players and staff are getting to L.A. and some of the plans out there. Basically, Suter's chartering out to Cali on a private aircraft because he's bringing some friends as well as his wife and son. The Wild has its own charter that'll include some staffers, Boudreau, his wife and one of his kids, Dubnyk, his wife and two kids and somebody else really neat that I'll report on Friday night.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I hung around with Suter last night for a couple hours and am writing a really cool feature on him for Sunday's paper. Such great anecdotes and a look into his life, both at the rink and away.
In Saturday's paper, I'm planning a really cool Dubnyk piece. Monday's paper should be pretty awesome, too.
So, please grab the Star Tribune this weekend.
That's about it for now. I have a ton of work to do.
Kirill Kaprizov is now the all-time leader for a U20 player in the Kontinental Hockey League (42 points in 43 games). I talked to Brent Flahr about that and will quote him in tomorrow's paper. Again, he is playing one more year 100 percent in the KHL and will not be at development camp in July, so STOP ASKING ME when he's coming.
I need to look this up, but I'm fairly sure Evgeni Malkin has the most points ever by an under-20 Russian (47 in 2005-06), but that was in the Russian Superleague (pre-KHL). So I think Kaprizov has a few games to break that mark.
I'll be on KFAN at 5:15 p.m. with Barreiro.
I'll be on KFAN on Sunday during the 11-1 slot at some point with Kevin Falness.
Here's the latest Russo-Souhan Show