The Wild, 5-2-1 in its past eight, looks to win its second in a row tonight when it visits the Phoenix Coyotes, who have points in 11 of 14.
Niklas Backstrom vs. Mike Smith, who is starting for the 16th time in 20 games (missed three with a groin injury).
The Wild maybe catches a break. Martin Hanzal (upper body) and Radim Vrbata (lower body) won’t play. Derek Morris is a game-time decision. The Wild can’t chase this team. The Coyotes almost always win when they score first and the Wild has given up the first goal in six straight and nine of 10.
The Wild averages 2.06 goals per game. In elementary school, I learned this nugget: If the Wild gives up the first goal, it would need to then score its average TWO goals to just overtake the Coyotes.
That could be a chore.
I’ll be on Fox Sports North tonight. Wild Live at 7:30, then the first intermission.
Check out tomorrow’s game notebook: I have some real funny stuff from Charlie Coyle about his call from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan after his high check on Matt Stajan. Coyle was basically in “awe” to speak to the type of player he actually aspires to be.
“I almost wanted to ask for an autograph, though it was probably the wrong time,” Coyle said, laughing.
He said when Shanahan said he was going to let the hit slide but to be careful next time, “it was a big sigh of relief. Thank God.”
Matt Cullen, playing so, so well for the Wild, is ecstatic Moorhead advanced to the State tournament. His alma mater beat Brainerd last night and is coached by his former high school teammate and cousin, Peter Cullen (Matt’s dad’s brother’s kid).
They texted back and forth this morning and Cullen has an off-day Thursday, so he plans to go to the Spuds’ game at the X.
Had a good talk with Zenon Konopka today, who was voted to be the Wild’s player rep without volunteering for it (ha), about realignment. He said this thing has a chance to blow up completely because the NHLPA is worried about the imbalance of teams between the East and West. I’ll write about that in Sunday’s paper and talk about it tonight on FSNorth.
Dave Tippett, Mike Yeo’s former coach and in a lot of ways mentor, is juggling his lines yet again tonight (wow, all coaches do this?):
Mikkel Boedker – Antoine Vermette– Lauri Korpikoski
Raffi Torres – Matt Lombardi – Shane Doan
Steve Sullivan– Boyd Gordon – David Moss
Paul Bissonnette – Kyle Chipchura– Nick Johnson
Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
Zbynek Michalek – Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Michael Stone – Rostislav Klesla
Scratches: David Rundblad, Chris Summers.
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Matt Cullen-Devin Setoguchi
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Mikael Granlund-Dany Heatley
Mike Rupp-Kyle Brodziak-Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Justin Falk-Tom Gilbert
Clayton Stoner-Jared Spurgeon
Scratches: Zenon Konopka and Nate Prosser
My guess is Konopka plays tomorrow in Anaheim against the big, high-flying Ducks and maybe Prosser. No goalie decision yet, coach Mike Yeo said, but with so many games and so much travel and a home game Sunday, why risk Backstrom’s health by playing him tired tomorrow? I’d start Kuemper.
My big question: Is this my last game I’ll ever be covering in the Arizona desert?
Talk to you tonight.
More from Star Tribune
More from Russo's Rants
The Wild had an up-tempo practice Monday before flying to Pennsylvania for the first of back-to-back exhibition games.
The Wild plays the Buffalo Sabres at Penn State on Monday in each team's first preseason game
The Wild signed the veteran winger to a pro tryout, but he failed his physical.
The Wild coach ran his first practice of training camp Friday, and it included a grueling skate test
The Wild had a busy Thursday and will hit the ice for the first time Friday.
Recommended For You
In a relentlessly antagonistic debate, Clinton denounced Trump for keeping his business dealings secret and peddling a "racist lie" about Obama. He cast her as a "typical politician" as he sought to capitalize on Americans' frustration.
But will it matter?
The plan was simple : Order a pizza, rob whoever showed up to deliver the pie. But the caper did not go as the four men expected.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton occasionally strayed from the truth during Monday's 90-minute debate.
Those who know Derek Falvey say he embraces statistical analysis, but also understands that there is room for old-school approaches to talent evaluation.
Recommended For You
Sam Bradford has shown the ability to throw downfield but not always the willingness.
Sam Bradford gives the Vikings a starting-caliber quarterback for this season and an insurance policy in the event that Teddy Bridgewater is not ready to return in 2017.
Before Teddy Bridgewater went down because of a season-ending knee injury, the Vikings felt they would draft no higher than the late 20s next spring.
All three 2016 draft picks the Vikings cut this weekend were brought back: offensive lineman Willie Beavers, German wide receiver Moritz Bohringer and defensive end Stephen Weatherly.
Peterson ranks 17th on the NFL's career rushing list. Only three players ahead of him didn't play in a Super Bowl or an NFL championship game. If he's still part of that group upon retirement, he'll view his career as incomplete.