Good afternoon from Boston, where it’s 65 degrees and humid—and the ice in TD Garden is mush. That was the main takeaway from the Wild’s morning skate in preparation for Monday night’s game against the Bruins, which kicks off an Eastern road trip featuring four games in six days.
There was a Janet Jackson concert in the arena Sunday night, which likely contributed to the lousy ice. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau speculated it could be better for the game, after having the afternoon to firm up more. “It was really bad,’’ he said. “But it’s the same for both teams. They’re probably more used to it than we are.’’
Asked by the Boston media about the Wild’s injuries, Boudreau mentioned that the Bruins have had it even worse. They enter the game without six players, including four who are out long-term. The latest was Spring Lake Park native David Backes, who underwent surgery last week to remove part of his colon and will miss eight weeks. Backes suffers from diverticulitis, and after complications with a recent episode, doctors decided he needed to have surgery now.
Three Bruins centers—Backes, David Krejci (upper-body injury) and Ryan Spooner (right groin adductor tear)—are sidelined. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula) and winger Noel Acciari (left index finger surgery) also are out, with Backes, Spooner, McQuaid and Acciari all on injured reserve.
The Bruins have won only one of their past four games, but they have points in six or the past seven. Five rookies have scored their first NHL goals this season, and four rookies are among the team’s top nine scorers. That group includes forward Anders Bjork, who as a junior at Notre Dame last season scored two goals—including the winner--as the Irish beat the Gophers 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Seven rookies have played for Boston this season, tying it for the most in the NHL with the LA Kings and Ottawa.
Devan Dubnyk will be the Wild’s starter in net, and he has great stats against the Bruins in his last three games against them: 2-1, 1.35 goals-against average, .956 save percentage and two shutouts in two games last season.