Wild and Canucks Tuesday night as Minnesota starts a two-game homestand. Six of the Wild's next seven games are at Xcel Energy Center.
If you didn't see my story in today's paper, it's GM Chuck Fletcher talking about the projected salary cap next season and how it affects Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba, among others. As I write, to me, Spurgeon is the most pressing and could trigger other things.
The Wild, which has shut out three opponents in the past five games, is riding a seven-game point streak (4-0-3) since Mike Yeo’s Nov. 30 practice rant designed to “rattle the cage.”
It’s the Wild’s longest such run since Jan. 20-Feb. 14, 2014 (8-0-2). The Wild has allowed five goals in the past six games, three goals in the past 18 regulation periods.
Devan Dubnyk practiced today for the second time and first time in four days after straining his groin Dec. 5, but Darcy Kuemper will start his fourth consecutive game and play in his fifth straight against Vancouver.
Yeo said Dubnyk would need another day anyway, but the Wild probably would have started Kuemper anyway after his shutout in San Jose. Kuemper has allowed four goals in the past four games and only two in regulation.
"I’m not the least bit surprised," Dubnyk said of the way Kuemper has stepped up. "I hope nobody is. He’s a great goaltender. That’s a backup job. Injuries happen and to be able to come in and give the guys a few great games, he did a great job of that. Those are big points for us."
Dubnyk said he felt good today and didn't have any of that hesitancy he had last week.
The Wild lost at home, 3-2, to the Canucks on Nov. 25 as part of a 1-4-2 skid. The Canucks, playing their second game on a six-game road trip, are 2-4-2 since and coming off a 4-0 loss in Chicago.
Here were the lines in today's practice:
The Wild got momentum when Yeo made the in-game line changes Saturday against San Jose. Coyle played right wing with Vanek and Koivu, but Yeo wants to go this way to balance things out a little bit more on the third and fourth line. Yeo has been real happy with the play of Porter, Haula and Carter lately.
He said they've been effective generating momentum and having the ability to play against top lines.
Also, Coyle and Niederreiter have had chemistry in the past and Niederreiter has gone 12 games without a goal.
"In theory it should be a line that can possess the puck, control the puck in the offensive zone. Should be able to play against any line out there and create offense as well," Yeo said.
I talked to Niederreiter this morning about his play lately and that'll be included in Tuesday's article.
The Wild has some tough opponents coming up, but as I mentioned above, it also plays six of the next seven in St. Paul.
"We should be coming home with a little bit of momentum, but now we have to really put our foot on the gas," Yeo said.
In Tuesday's paper, also a Glen Sonmor obit. This is the updated obit as of now. Thanks to reporter Paul Walsh for putting this together.
I will be on KFAN Tuesday morning at 9:15 a.m. live from the station's Mall of America Toys for Tots drive. It's from the Forever 21 area, so stop by as Paul Allen broadcasts for three hours.
Also, the next Russo-Souhan Show is Thursday at 4 p.m. at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub. Kenny Albert will be our special guest, so come on by.
Lastly, the next Star Tribune Fans Night Out is Dec. 22. The package includes a pregame Chalk Talk with myself and Wes Walz and a lower-bowl ticket to the Wild-Canadiens game. Here is the link for more information.