The Wild looks to snap a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the front end of a home back-to-back. The 6-0 Chicago Blackhawks play here tomorrow.
Niklas Backstrom gets the nets tonight for the Wild, meaning Josh Harding likely tomorrow. The Blue Jackets arrived in Minnesota about an hour ago. They beat Dallas last night, but they couldn’t leave Columbus as schedule because of fog, freezing drizzle and icy runways at MSP. Steve Mason will be in goal for the Blue Jackets.
Same forwards tonight for the Wild and likely the same lines. Matt Kassian and Nate Prosser are scratched.
Three different defense pairings though. Maybe the future No. 1 pairing will be debuted tonight when 19-year-old Jonas Brodin joins Ryan Suter. Coach Mike Yeo liked the Clayton Stoner/Tom Gilbert pair the first three games, so that tandem will be reunited tonight. Marco Scandella will skate across from Justin Falk.
Gilbert will continue to skate on the No. 1 power-play unit. Jared Spurgeon tried to skate yesterday and it didn’t go well, so Yeo says he is day to day.
Talked to Suter this morning and he obviously isn’t satisfied with his game personally right now. Boxing out and play in front of the net is the big issue.
The theory by some I know well in the game is that Suter got so accustomed to Shea Weber clearing guys in front of the net that that is why he seemed to disregard Johan Franzen in Detroit on that Pavel Datsyuk winning and Vladimir Sobotka on the St. Louis winner. Obviously that’ll need to change.
But from the defensive blue line out, to me, Suter has been fine. He is a big reason why the Wild outchanced four of its first five opponents. I have some great stuff from Ken Hitchcock on Suter that I’ll throw into Wednesday’s paper, but if you didn’t read it, give Chip Scoggins’ column a read from today’s paper.
On Brodin and Suter playing together for maybe years, Yeo said, “We’re projecting down the road for Brods to be that kind of player. But at the same time, let’s give him a fair chance. This is only his third game in the NHL. We are asking a lot of him, but we think he’s capable of doing it.”
Yeo wasn’t happy with Mikael Granlund’s game without the puck the past two games, especially in St. Louis, where he stopped playing him down the stretch. Yeo met with Granlund to talk to him about his play without the puck and a harder compete level defensively and “just a shift in focus, ‘let’s get back to doing those little things right,’ and the offensive side of it, the skill part, that’s always going to be there for him.”
This is honestly all part of the adjustment for a rookie getting used to a new league. These 48 games will make Granlund a better player in the future. He says he is learning what he can and cannot do and get away with the NHL.
Talk to you tonight. Rachel Blount is covering the game, but I’ll be tweeting and blogging and writing the notebook and all that good stuff.
I’ll also be on the Fox Sports North pregame show and first intermission tonight.
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Ready, set, go. Ask away. As a reminder, the way it works: You ask a question in the comment field of this blog, and I may pick it out and answer in my Sunday Insider.