Terrific news for the Wild. It appears the team will avoid Al Montoya on Thursday night and get Carey Price!!!
That's a load off.
OK, my tongue is firmly planted in cheek, but the Canadiens' backup, who's getting the nod against his old Winnipeg Jets tonight, has been unbeatable against the Wild.
In five all-time starts and six games, he is 5-0 against the Wild with six goals allowed with a 1.18 goals-against average and .958 save percentage. That's Montoya's best numbers vs. anybody.
Price at least has been beatable for the Wild, including last month's 4-2 Minnesota win in Montreal.
Price is 4-4 against the Wild with a 2.51 GAA and a .911 SV% in eight starts.
This should be Round 2 of Devan Dubnyk (the best goalie statistically in the NHL) vs. Price (largely considered the best goalie in the NHL).
Dubnyk is tied for second in the NHL with 21 wins, Price tied for fifth with 20.
Dubnyk leads the NHL with 1.80 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. Price ranks sixth with a 2.12 goals-against average and fifth with a .928 save percentage
Based on points percentage, Thursday is a matchup between the best-team in the West (fourth in the NHL) in Minnesota vs. fifth-best team in the NHL in Montreal. Habs have been impressive because they have been devastated by injury for most of the season, especially now with no Galchenyuk, Markov, Desharnais, Shaw or Gallagher.
So, big opportunity for the Wild to take advantage and get two points against a depleted team playing on the second of back-to-back.
This is the first of nine games in 15 nights for the Wild before the All-Star break, including a tough back-to-back in Dallas and Chicago this weekend.
A Wild victory against the Habs would be Minnesota’s 13th win in 18 games (12-4-1) against the Eastern Conference, equaling the amount it had in 32 games vs. the East last season.
The Wild’s 5-2-1 all-time vs. the Canadiens at home, including three wins in a row. Overall, the Canadiens have lost four in a row against the Wild.
This is the Wild's first home game since seeing its eight-game home winning streak and 12-game overall winning streak end New Year's Eve vs. the Jackets.
Today, the Wild had a practice that consisted of all 30-plus-year-olds off (except Nate Prosser, so Dubnyk, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville). Jared Spurgeon was the only player younger than 30 that had off.
It was their option whether they even had to come to the rink.
Bruce Boudreau, who watched practice with us ink-stained wretches, admitted this is an experiment.
Normally, you'd have your optional practice Tuesday and go full Wednesday. But he wants to see how the Wild reacts Thursday with a full morning skate after a largely optional practice the day before the game.
If it fails miserably, you can bet it won't happen again.
"I thought [Tuesday's practice] was a real good day," Boudreau said, "and [today] was sort of an experiment. I don't know how it's going to work or if it's not going to work. But with all the games that we've got now, ... so we wanted to give a couple of our older players and/or guys that get a lot of ice time a little bit of a break today and see how it works out for [Thursday's] game and whether it's something we'll continue to do."
Starting pretty much now, there will be very few practices the rest of the season as the Wild's schedule picks up bigtime. Boudreau even called the Wild "the rested team in the league."
That's it now. Please check out Thursday's paper because I sat down with owner Craig Leipold by a California pool (sorry) Sunday, and he had some interesting stuff to say about the team and his coach.
I'll be on KFAN for a couple segments starting at 9:35 a.m. Thursday.
And tonight (Wednesday) at 6 o'clock, please come to Hell's Kitchen to see the latest Russo-Souhan Show recording. Call ahead for reservations because our last show, lots of Russo-Souhan Show rubes got turned away at the door (sorry).