Wild and New York Islanders tonight at Xcel Energy Center as Minnesota looks to wrap up a four-game homestand (1-1-1) on a positive note against the NHL’s wins leader with 19.
Today at 12:30 p.m. CT, I will be doing a live podcast with Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan at www.souhanunfiltered.com. It will also be archived after the fact.
Niklas Backstrom in goal for the Wild tonight. Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders.
Charlie Coyle (stomach bug) skated today and will play tonight. Stu Bickel and Christian Folin look to be the Wild scratches.
Ryan Suter (mumps) returned after two games out.
“I don’t know how more people haven’t gotten it honestly with the amount of time we’re together,” said Zach Parise, who sounds like he’s coming down with something (“I’m just congested”).
Coach Mike Yeo is excited to get Suter back, although he said, “I don’t think it’s fair to expect him to be where he was before he caught this.”
Eight Minnesotans are expected to play in tonight’s game: Parise, Keith Ballard, Nate Prosser and Ryan Carter vs. Kyle Okposo, Brock Nelson, Nick Leddy and Anders Lee.
That’s a lot of “Fargo” accents.
“That’s pretty impressive,” Parise said of all the Minnesotans on one sheet of ice. “That says a lot about the development here. That’s a lot of guys from one place in one NHL game.”
And this doesn’t even include honorary Minnesotans Erik Haula and Thomas Vanek. :)
Again, Vanek skates on a line with Mikael Granlund and Parise tonight as Yeo tries to get Vanek’s game going. Vanek knows this is his chance.
“I’m not expecting any miracles tonight, and I know it’s not the other players I have played with,” Vanek said. “I need to be better. I know that.”
Lee, the former Edina star and Notre Dame standout, had to be worried he would miss his first game at Minnesota. He got a last-second NHL hearing yesterday for elbowing St. Louis defenseman Carl Gunnarsson. He ended up being fined $2,286 and will play tonight. I wrote about Lee when the Wild played at Long Island in March.
The kid has 40 goals in 104 combined NHL and AHL games.
Okposo is tied with John Tavares for first in scoring with 24 points. Nelson leads with 12 goals. Leddy is second among Isles defensemen with 13 points and leads with plus-10.
Their Minnesotans are good, and I got good stuff today from Okposo, Lee and Leddy. Lee, playing his first game at the X, has his parents, grandparents, one of his sisters and a ton of cousins coming tonight.
I learned today: You can’t spell Islanders without Anders.
“I actually saw that on a poster once,” Lee said, laughing.
Leddy is excited about his trade to Long Island.
“I got some more responsibility, which is nice. Really nice,” he said.
Nino Niederreiter vs. Cal Clutterbuck again tonight. Niederreiter had a goal and two assists in two games against the Islanders last year, Clutterbuck one goal in two games. You can hear from Clutterbuck in tomorrow’s paper. Clutterbuck said it’s a little less odd playing the Wild, that most the nostalgia has worn off.
Niederreiter leads the Wild with 11 goals but is scoreless in the past three games and was minus-3 last game.
Yeo said like all young kids, the Wild’s still trying to get him to be
“The consistency is still trying to bring it out of him. He’s starting to figure out what type of player he needs to be