This feels like one of the biggest -- if not the biggest – game so far this season for the Wild.
Bruce Boudreau’s team has a three-game winning streak, but here comes Nashville, the defending Western Conference champ, with a five-game winning streak of its own. Xcel Energy Center should be buzzing Thursday night.
Devan Dubnyk has posted three straight shutouts, but Nashville has racked up 23 goals (4.6 per game) during the winning streak.
“We know with a divisional game, how vital these things are,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said after today's morning skate. “We're only 1-3 with divisional games, so we know we've got to pick up our pace against this team. They're a team that's always fighting for the divisional lead anywhere. If we can't get up for Nashville we can't get up for anybody.”
Dubnyk’s shutout streak is at 195 minutes, 5 seconds.
Asked how he keeps that momentum going away from the rink, Dubnyk said, “Nothing changes. Nothing changes if it’s not going well, nothing changes if it’s going well. Obviously, it’s a little more enjoyable when it’s going well, but you just keep the same routine and you approach each game as a new challenge.
“Tonight’s game has nothing to do with the last game or the last three. It’s a new challenge, and [Nashville’s] playing really well right now. So we’ve got our hands full tonight, but we’re very capable of it.”
Filip Forsberg leads Nashville with 17 points – nine goals, eight assists. He scored four goals against the Wild last season in five games.
Asked where Forsberg’s shot ranks among the ones he’s faced, Dubnyk said, “It’s right up there at the top. It’s heavy and accurate, but his ability to get it off quick is probably the most dangerous thing. I know he’s beat me a couple times picking off passes where it doesn’t seem like he’s in a great position to get it off, and he lets it go fast and hard and that’s how you score in this league, that’s why he has as many goals as he does.”
The Wild plans to scratch defenseman Mike Reilly, with Gustav Olofsson paired with Kyle Quincey. Scratched several times earlier in the season, Olofsson has had opportunities of late and taken advantage.
“He’s just playing steady, and the more he plays – he’s going to be sitting out games still – but the more he plays, the better he gets,” Boudreau said. “He’s a young D that needs playing time. It was harder to get him in earlier because he didn’t have a great camp. But now that he’s gotten in and stayed in pretty well, he’s doing the things we thought he was capable of doing.”