Morning (afternoon here) from inside the Joe Louis Arena, where the Wild and Detroit Red Wings complete a home-and-home tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT. Wild lost last night's game 3-2.
Detroit is 8-0-2 in its past 10 at home. The Wild is 3-3 in its past six at Detroit.
The game is on NBC Sports Network with Doc and Pierre at the mics.
Please go to www.startribune.com/wild for all of today's coverage. It includes my game story, notebook, postgame blog and Jarome Iginla column and Patrick Reusse's Darcy Kuemper column and a postgame blog on the Wild's marketing.
The Wild had an optional skate this morning.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who looks to be getting the start tonight, and Darcy Kuemper were on the ice with defenseman Jon Blum, who has been recalled for injured Clayton Stoner, forwards Justin Fontaine, Nino Niederreiter, Dany Heatley, Stephane Veilleux (freshly recalled), Cody McCormick and Erik Haula.
Stoner isn't on the trip, nor is injured Keith Ballard and Mike Rupp, whom I hear is ill. (sick of getting scratched maybe, as you can see here).
Jimmy Howard, "who in my mind won them yesterday's game," said Zach Parise, gets the start for the second consecutive game.
Wild coach Mike Yeo will be available to us ink-stained wretches at 4:15 p.m. CT, so we'll get a better indication of the Wild's lineup then. Just one forward decision to make. McCormick looks to be one of the scratched forwards.
The Wild has previously recalled Veilleux without playing him, but with the penalty kill having given up seven goals in the past nine games (and two of those games don't count because the Wild's penalty kill didn't see the ice in penalty-free games), I'd assume Veilleux draws in.
I'd guess Justin Fontaine is scratched. He had a rough game last night, and since Charlie Coyle moved up to right wing on Mikko Koivu's line, the Wild needs centermen Erik Haula and Kyle Brodziak in the lineup.
Bryzgalov looks to be making his fourth start with the Wild. He is 1-0-2 with a 1.93 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and one shutout.
He is 9-8-5 all-time vs. the Red Wings with a 2.78 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
I got a lot of questions what Ryan Suter whispered in the linesman's ear during that power-play neutral-zone faceoff with a little more than a minute left after the linesman booted Mikko Koivu for the 100th time.
"We were just talking about that in the back, the guys were like, 'What the heck were you saying?'" Suter said, laughing. "I asked him, 'Who's supposed to put his stick down first?' I was just trying to make him think to give our guys a little more time because we were tired."
"It seemed every time they'd kick out Mikko and Granny."
It did seem the linesmen last night had a personal problem with Koivu.
"I’m not sure why. I’m not a ref," Suter said. "Maybe he was yelling at him too much. Mikko likes to do that."
Yes, he does. Lots of linesmen have told me this. Koivu, who wears his game face before, during and after games, should probably lighten up.
I'm writing about the Wild's 23rd-ranked penalty kill for tomorrow. I talked to Suter and Parise about it, and both were pretty good.
"Sometimes during the year, you go through ups and downs," Suter said. "But we’re going through all downs it seems this year. "The good thing is there’s still time to get it right before we get to the playoffs."
By the way, Suter and Parise say the team isn't, as Parise put it, "freaking out."
But both admitted players have put themselves in positions again where they're scoreboard watching. Luckily for the Wild, Phoenix blew a third-period lead to Boston last night and lost, so that lead remains four points. Dallas won, and that cushion's down to six points. Dallas will have two games in hand on the Wild after tonight, so tonight is a huge game for Minnesota.
The schedule gets very hard after Wednesday.
Parise hasn't scored in five games, by the way. And Jason Pominville really needs to settle down suddenly. He's had the yips the past few games, whiffing constantly on passes, shots, etc.
I'll update this after we grab Yeo tonight.