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Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Devan Dubnyk making 300th career start tonight in Toronto

Wild at Leafs tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT

FINALLLLLLLLLLLLLY, this trip is coming to an end. Please give yesterday’s blog a read for lineup details, but the Wild looks to end the 1-1-2 trip on a high against a high-powered opponent on home ice. In the Leafs’ last four home wins, six, six, six and four goals!

So Devan Dubnyk, making his 300th career start tonight, probably will have to be good. The Wild typically play tight games, but its 5-7-4 one-goal game record is actually the fifth-worst one-goal game winning percentage in the NHL (.313). Of the Wild’s 12 losses, 11 have been one-goal losses, which is kind of nuts in a league where there are usually a lot of empty-net goals.

Dubnyk didn’t realize it was his 300th and hopes he doesn’t have to put any money on the board tonight (players hitting milestones, in their hometown, playing against a former team typically put a sum of money on the locker-room whiteboard that usually goes to the guy with the game-winning goal).

“Don’t tell any of the guys that. It’s been an expensive trip already,” Dubnyk joked. “It’s a lot, and I guess most of them probably piled up the last couple years. It’s been fun, and fingers crossed there can be some more.”

Since coming to the Wild, he is 69-41-11 with a 2.05 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 125 games, leading the league in games, shutouts, save percentage and goals-against average and ranking second in wins in that span amongst goalies with at least 65 games.

CRAZY.

I remember writing after the Penguins loss Jan. 13, 2015, how it was more than time for Chuck Fletcher to acquire a goalie.

I was chatting with TSN/ESPN's Pierre LeBrun this morning. We were in a Courtyard Marriott lobby in Buffalo writing together in the late afternoon Jan. 14 when the Wild traded for Dubnyk. My reaction to him, "Devan Dubnyk?"

I think it's worked out.

Dubnyk leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.63), save percentage (.946) and shutouts (four). Yet, what’s so cool about him is how relaxed he is on gamedays.

Not kidding you: this morning he held court with the media for probably a half-hour, then took pictures with a ton of kids, including goalies, and signed autographs.

One of the kids was Chuck Fletcher’s 12-year-old nephew, Will, a goalie who won his peewee game last night. Fletcher went. Very cute story, but the goal song for their games is Chelsea Dagger. So the night before, Will and his 11-year-old brother, Owen, who runs the music in the rink, were talking how there’s no way they can play the Chicago Blackhawks’ goal song with their uncle in the crowd.

So, they dug up the Wild’s old goal song, “Crowd Chant” by Joe Satriani, and played that.

Not much more to say after yesterday’s blog, which has all the details on tonight’s game.

Bruce Boudreau and John Anderson grew up in the Leafs system and return here as coaches on the same team for the first time. So they were very popular today. Boudreau assisted on Anderson’s first junior goal and first Leafs goal, but Boudreau joked that most their best moments in Toronto “are untellable.”

I’m writing my game notebook on how well Nino Niederreiter is playing. He has been an analytics star for the Wild since he arrived in Minnesota, but ask him about analytics, and “I don’t know a whole lot.”

Pretty interesting stuff.

That’s it for moi. Did I mention how much I can’t wait to get home tomorrow?

BY the way, the latest Russo-Souhan Show can be heard here. The next live show will be at Hell’s Kitchen on Monday, although the time has been changed to 6 p.m. now because Jim’s returning from Jacksonville late. PLEASE, PLEASE, COME ON DOWN!

Wild sticks with shuffled top lines from win against Edmonton

Finally, this five-game, 12-day odyssey wraps up Wednesday here in Toronto. I’ve been in Canada so long, I’ve started to adopt a bit of a Canadian accent and end every sentence with, “eh?”

Hopefully you read my feature today on Bruce Boudreau, the movie nut. Some real fun stuff in there.

Here's the feature

And here's the charticle that went with it where Boudreau talks about some of his favorite movies, movie lines and why he actually kinda now regrets being in the movie, Slap Shot.

Wild and Leafs at Air Canada Centre. 6:30 p.m. CT puck drop.

The Wild has beaten the Leafs in six straight games (five one-goal wins) but is 3-6 all-time in Toronto. The Wild has scored one goal or less in seven of eight all-time losses vs. the Leafs. In its nine wins, it has outscored the Leafs 28-12.

Devan Dubnyk vs. Frederik Andersen, Boudreau’s old Ducks goalie. The two reunited before the Wild practiced today at the Maple Leafs’ practice facility.

Boudreau has great affection for Andersen. He said he told GM Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock at the draft after the trade with Anaheim that he was the “real deal” and would win a lot of games here.

He started in a big funk and Boudreau said Andersen learned how you need a thick skin in the Center of the Hockey Universe because every little thing is scrutinized. But he has learned and is on quite a roll (4-2-1 last seven with a 1.85 goals-against average and .938 save percentage).

It’ll be an interesting game Wednesday. Leafs return from a long road trip, which is usually funky and flat, and the Wild’s finishing a long road trip, which often is funky and a disaster for teams as they look forward to getting home.

Wild can’t afford that, as you know.

“I hope it doesn’t happen in this city,” said Boudreau, the former Leaf and local. “I have enough trouble winning in Toronto when I come, so I hope we’re ready to play. We’re coming off a pretty good win in Edmonton, and we’d like to continue this because then we’ll have a good stretch at home.”

Boudreau is 4-5-3 all-time in Toronto, 0-3-1 in his last four (outscored 23-10) with his goalies having a .781 save percentage.

Of course, the Wild’s used to playing close, close games. In fact, it has only lost by more than a goal ONCE this season.

Boudreau continued to pump Dubnyk’s tires for this factoid. He leads the NHL in save percentage (.945), shutouts (four) and goals-against average (1.63).

“I know we don’t get as much press as the people up here, but he’s been as good as any goalie in the league,” Boudreau said.

Leafs, led by Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner (tied for second among rookies with 19 points each, are also 4-1 in their past five at home, with the four wins all being with four or more goals scored.

“I’ve watched their home games, and when they’re on, you better be ready to play,” Boudreau said. “They’re going to very good, very good. It’s not going to take too long for these guys to be extremely good.”

In practice today, Boudreau stuck with the lines from the final two periods in Edmonton, meaning Zach Parise skated with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter (seven points in his past seven games) skated with Eric Staal (no goals in his last 12 games) and Charlie Coyle (leads the Wild with nine goals, has six points and is +7 in six career games vs. Toronto).

Parise has four goals and nine points in 17 games. He has 52 shots (3.1 a game) and a .076 shooting percentage.

But maybe a good sign was the amount of scoring chances with Haula and Pominville. In the Oilers game, he hit a post, hit a defender in the net on an open-net backhander, was stopped on a breakaway and had the puck pokechecked off his stick on a breakaway.

“That’s the first sign of coming back is getting chances,” Boudreau said. “It’s when you’re playing and nothing’s going in and you’re not getting any opportunities, that’s the time you start to worry about it. My dad used to tell me that every time I played, he says, ‘Are you getting chances? How many shots on goal did you get?’ That was his criteria as to whether things were going to start to go good for you or you better get your butt in gear.”

I talked to Parise, and you can hear from him in Wednesday’s paper.

Only other change? Well, they actually did this in Edmonton, but Matt Dumba is off the power play for now (one goal, two assists on the power play this season). He has been coughing up pucks left and right on the power play, although so has many guys. Jason Pominville takes his spot for now at the point.

“We’ve got to try something,” said Boudreau, his team 0 for 9 on the power play this trip. “It’s been going in fits and starts.”

He noted how the Wild’s power play was nearly 23 percent in November, but it didn’t feel that way.

“And we’ve started off December not too well,” he said. “Hopefully we get two one game and it’ll jumpstart us again.”

I spent last night’s four-game action in the NHL Situation Room at NHL headquarters. Third time I’ve done that, and hopefully you’ve read my articles the last two seasons from inside there. Fun night to be in there: Bunch of reviews, challenges, a couple overturned goals.

They are just a very professional crew, so thorough, and it’s quite the operation. I always appreciate them letting me sit in there.

Tonight, all the Central Division teams are in action except the Wild, so Wild’s bound to lose ground, although the Wild has games in hand on everybody (and soon to be five games in hand on a couple teams).

I’ll be on KFAN at 9:15-9:50 a.m. Wednesday.

Talk to ya Wednesday, eh?

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Wild at Toronto

    6:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Toronto

    6 pm on TNT, 830-AM

  • Army at Gophers women's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    6 pm

  • Edmonton at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Detroit at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Georgia Southern at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    2 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Vikings at Jacksonville

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Gophers women's basketball at South Carolina

    2 pm on SECN, 88.5-FM

  • Northern Illinois at Gophers men's basketball

    4 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Louis at Wild

    5 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Golden State at Timberwolves

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Florida at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Chicago

    7 pm on ESPN, 830-AM

  • Belmont at Gophers women's basketball

    12 pm on 88.5-FM

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Today's Scoreboard

No MLB games today

No NFL games today

  • Detroit

    Charlotte

    6:00 PM

  • Boston

    Orlando

    6:00 PM

  • Miami

    Atlanta

    6:30 PM

  • Denver

    Brooklyn

    6:30 PM

  • Portland

    Milwaukee

    7:00 PM

  • LA Lakers

    Houston

    7:00 PM

  • Cleveland

    New York

    7:00 PM

    ESPN

  • Sacramento

    Dallas

    7:30 PM

  • Indiana

    Phoenix

    8:00 PM

  • Golden State

    LA Clippers

    9:30 PM

    ESPN

  • Minnesota

    Toronto

    6:30 PM

    FSN

  • Boston

    Washington

    7:00 PM

    NBC Sports

  • Carolina

    Anaheim

    9:30 PM

  • Ottawa

    San Jose

    9:30 PM

No MLS games today