Good day from beautiful Buffalo, where the Wild held a very optional practice at First Niag, I mean, now Key Bank Center this afternoon.
It'll always be Marine Midland Arena in my heart.
The Wild, tied for the most goals in the National Hockey League and tied for the top spot in the Western Conference , hopes to finish off this roadie on a high Thursday by snagging a fourth and fifth point out of a possible eight.
Injured Jared Spurgeon and Erik Haula took part in today's optional, but coach Bruce Boudreau indicated that neither one would return against the Sabres.
"When they're healthy enough to play, they'll play," Boudreau said.
Boudreau may also be thinking, why rush Spurgeon back when Christian Folin's game keeps getting better, Matt Dumba has played well with Ryan Suter the past three games and has played four good games in a row and, frankly, Tuesday's game against Boston may not get to the second period scoreless if not for two solid defensive plays by Nate Prosser.
The Wild, tied with a league-high 24 goals, is 7-2-2 in its past 11 games against the Sabres, outscoring them 37-23. It is 7-2 all-time in Buffalo, including three wins in a row.
-- Joel Eriksson Ek is coming off becoming the first Wild teenager in history and fourth Wild rookie to have three assists in a game (Pascal Dupuis, Mikko Koivu and Nick Johnson). He’s the second Wild rookie in history to be +3 in a game (Justin Fontaine).
-- The Wild leads the NHL with 16 players who have scored at least one goal. That’s three more than any team. Mikael Granlund is the only Wild forward without a goal and the only Wild player to have played all seven games without a goal.
-- The Wild’s first-period goal and shot differential is -2 and -22. Its second-period goal and shot differential is a league-best +9 (15-6) and +22.
-- The Wild has the NHL’s second-best penalty kill (20 for 21, 95.2 percent.
-- Sabres C Jack Eichel (ankle) and LW Evander Kane (ribs) are out. G Robin Lehner (ill) is questionable. He didn't practice today.
-- Former Sabre Zac Dalpe didn't face any league discipline for his boarding minor against the Bruins. Dalpe was pretty good talking about his fight with former teammate Tim Schaller. It was his first career fight, and I'll write more about it in Thursday's game notebook. Schaller and Dalpe texted after the game and all's good.
-- Boudreau threw Chris Stewart on Dalpe's line after the boarding penalty just to protect Dalpe in case of retribution.
"Everybody wants a big brother. They want to feel safe," Boudreau said. "Stewy makes them feel safe. That's good. I think that's something we need."
On Dalpe, Boudreau said, "He plays hard. He's doing everything he can to stay in the NHL. I think he's doing a real good job."
-- Boudreau quote on last night: "I thought we were better on video than we were live. Maybe that's just the critique in me. I watched it, and thought, 'Maybe that wasn't a bad play, maybe we are forcing them into mistakes. CORSI numbers, I don't know if we would have won that battle. But we played pretty good, we got great goaltending when we needed to, and I don't think they did, and that was the difference."
Talk to ya Thursday. I'm filling in for Barreiro on KFAN from 3-6:30 p.m. Friday. Planning a first hour roundtable with Anthony LaPanta, Mike Greenlay and Kevin Gorg. I'm sure there will be plenty of laughs.