Happy Hockey Day, Minnesota! Wild and Ducks tonight.
You know what would be a Minnesota Nice and classy thing to do?
Welcome Ducks GM Bob Murray back to this wonderful barn.
Actually, I don't think Murray's on the trip, so maybe the team should just welcome back Randy Carlyle, a pal of Chuck Fletcher's and Brent Flahr's. Frankly, if Bruce Boudreau doesn't accept the Wild job, I bet you Carlyle would be the Wild coach today.
Other than interviewing John Torchetti in person and traveling to California to interview Boudreau, the only other person that got an in-person interview was Carlyle, whom Fletcher and Flahr visited in Toronto and respect bigtime.
Devan Dubnyk vs. John Gibson tonight, so one would assume Darcy Kuemper gets the nod tomorrow vs. the Nashville Predators, who arrive this afternoon.
Defenseman Mike Reilly will play his first NHL game tonight since Nov. 21. He'll be paired with Christian Folin. The Wild had Friday off, so Reilly hasn't gotten to practice yet with the Wild. But he said Iowa pretty much runs the same systems, so he feels comfortable and ready.
Nate Prosser is scratched.
If the Wild ran line rushes this morning, I didn't see it, but I'd assume the lines start the way it ended last game, which would have Jason Pominville on the third line with Zach Parise and Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder on the fourth with Chris Stewart and Tyler Graovac. I'd assume the top two lines remain intact.
I'm writing my notebook on Stewart for tomorrow. His 10 goals lead the NHL for a player with as little ice time as him.
He ranks 455th in total ice time (455:56) and 16th on the Wild. He's averaging just 10:20 a game.
Stewart, Boudreau and Mikko Koivu were pretty good for the story.
By the way, Stewart wasn't saying what the inside joke is between him and Matt Dumba on goal celebrations. A lot of people have asked.
My Sunday column, by the way, is on Torchetti and is a fun read.
The Wild, 1-1 on its four-game homestand, carries a 14-game point streak against the Western Conference (12-0-2) and is a league-best 18-2-1 since Dec. 4. The Wild is 1-5-1 in its past seven home games vs. Anaheim, the six losses all being by one goal. In Boudreau’s return to Anaheim on Jan. 8, the Wild won, 2-1. The Ducks have won five of six since.
Nino Niederreiter has five goals in the past five games. Mikael Granlund has 23 points in the past 20 games and Koivu has 27 points in the past 27 games. Parise has no points in the past five games. Charlie Coyle has one goal in the past 11 games.
In his past eight starts, Dubnyk is 6-2 with a 2.89 goals-against average) and .894 save percentage.
After allowing 60 goals in the first 32 games (1.88 goals per game), the Wild has allowed 37 in the past 12 (3.08 goals per game).
Ducks center Ryan Kesler has 25 goals and 36 points in 57 games against the Wild. Center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry have combined for 25 goals and 67 points against Minnesota.
Getzlaf on Boudreau: "Anytime you have a coach that leaves it's bittersweet. We had four years together there that we had a lotta good times, a lot of memories. Obviously when you see him for the first time, I didn’t play last time against him, it’ll be fun out there tonight."
On facing the Ducks again, Boudreau said, "I told somebody last week that I wish we didn't play them at all quite frankly. Not only are they a good team but I don't like playing against guys I really like. There are a lot of players over there that I really grew fond of."
He said last game "a couple of players looked at me and gave that smirk and smile, and I try not to look at them during the warmups or the course of the game. But there were a couple neat signs out there. But, other than that, quite frankly I was in awe. And I did the same thing in Washington, was in awe of how good these guys are. You don’t realize it when they’re with you because you look at their faults and say, 'Oh man, they should be doing this, they should be doing that.' And then when you’re playing against them, you say, 'Man, these guys are great.'"
That's it for me. I'll be on Fox Sports North at some point during the 3 or 4 o'clock hour, I believe.