Wild and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Wild has won four in a row on the road and a franchise-record-tying nine straight games overall. It also has a franchise-record-tying 10-game point streak (9-0-1) with no regulation losses since Nov. 29.
Coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t divulge the starting goalie, but I’m pretty sure it’s Darcy Kuemper vs., we're guessing (but not confirmed, I don't think), Henrik Lundqvist.
I’m pretty sure Zach Parise is out for a second game in a row and that Nate Prosser replaced Christian Folin.
I’d think the same lines as last night.
Boudreau said he’d like to play the fourth line of Jordan Schroeder, Pat Cannone and Kurtis Gabriel more than he did last night.
Last night, once Boudreau realized the Canadiens were basically playing four defensemen, he went for the kill so to speak and pretty much played three lines. He said the gameplan in the third was to get it deep, make the Habs go 200 feet and see what happens.
The fourth line was also hindered by the Wild having to kill three minors in the third, including back-to-back, so once they sat for eight or nine minutes, Boudreau decided not to go with the cold forwards.
“I was a little worried about that last night quite frankly about not playing the fourth line as much as I did. I’d like to even up the minutes a little bit more,” he said.
Cannone grew up in Bayport, Long Island, and grew up an Islander fan, but he’s excited to play his third NHL game against the Rangers at “the world’s most famous arena,” he said, Madison Square Garden.
“Christmas came early,” Cannone said.
His parents, Joanne and Stephen, sister, Casey, brother, Matthew, and wife, Natalie, will all be in the house, and he also got 25 postgame passes for family and tons of buddies.
This is Eric Staal’s first game against the Rangers since ending the season last year with them. It did not go well, to say the least.
So it’s certainly gratifying for Staal to return here leading the Wild in scoring, tied in goal scoring and riding a season-high six-game point streak.
“Yeah that's, I guess you could say a normal reaction,” Staal said. “It feels good to be playing
well with this group that we have and it's been fun. We've got a big test tonight in a good barn, [we] want to keep this ride rolling.”
On the Rangers, “I definitely thought about it because I was disappointed with how it all went,” Staal said. “But like I said, at the end of the year I wasn't coming in to ruffle feathers. I knew going into this summer I was going to [try] my hardest to find the right opportunity and the right fit, regardless of how much someone was going to pay me. I was going to find the right situation personally to be successful and I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity in Minnesota and a great group. I'm
enjoying it, it's been fun.”
He did text back and forth with his brother, Marc, the Rangers’ defenseman, today, “more talking about [brother] Jordan's big tilt last night or lack thereof”with Zach Bogosian.”
“It's always fun playing against him and a little extra from me tonight just because I've gotten to know these guys a little bit better, even the staff. It's a great organization, It’s a great people. As brief as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed being a Ranger. It was difficult-- the way it ended up, and how we went
out. But its sometimes how it goes and I'm happy where I'm at right now and I'm really excited for the rest of this season and the future that lies ahead for me.”
On the Rangers, Boudreau said, “They’re a fast team, boy. Alain’s (Vigneault) always had fast teams wherever he’s gone. They played fast. It’s very similar to Montreal in the style and the tactics they use, which probably if anything benefits us from playing last night.”