Wild and Colorado Avalanche tonight at Xcel Energy Center.
Devan Dubnyk will be carrying his career-best 10-game game point streak (8-0-2) into the game against Semyon Varlamov, who missed the past three games with a groin injury.
Nate Prosser draws in for Christian Folin.
“He played really well,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Prosser. “We’ve got seven D here. I don’t think he deserved to sit out 10 or 12 games in a row. It’s something of a reward.”
Boudreau made clear Folin will get back in on the upcoming road trip.
Pat Cannone will make his NHL debut at age 30, and here’s my feature on him. He must be one beloved teammate because so many of his current Iowa teammates and former minor-league and college teammates liked or retweeted my article and blog.
I told him, and he said, “I’ve made a lot of friends in this game.”
Boudreau has a soft spot for these type of debuts for minor leaguers. Why?
“Well, I was there for 33 years. I sort of get to like those guys,” Boudreau said. “It’ll make everybody in Iowa better knowing they all have opportunities to play in the NHL if they play well.”
Lines expected to be
Erik Haula won’t play in the next three games. Sounds like he has got a groin injury or something of that ilk, but Boudreau expects him back in the lineup shortly after Christmas. Unless Haula skates on his own during the holiday break, I'd think Nashville two days after Christmas is unlikely.
The Wild will want an extra forward for the road trip, so we'll see if only one game for Iowa is enough to get Zac Dalpe recalled. If Cannone looks good tonight, maybe he's given more time down there and the Wild just call up an extra winger as insurance.
The Avalanche has not only beaten the Wild twice in two meetings this regular season (after the Wild was on a 10-1-1 run against Colorado), Boudreau reminded that it beat the Wild twice in the preseason.
This is a team that ranks 28th with 2.2 goals scored per game and 30th with 3.2 goals against a game and have lost 10 of their past 12 by a combined 47-26.
With back-to-back games at Montreal and the Rangers (very tough buildings) and then not being allowed to practice Dec. 24-26 and having to fly to Nashville the morning of that game Dec. 27, the Wild really, really wants these two points.
If the Wild extends its win streak to eight tonight, it’ll be the second-longest win streak in franchise history (nine). Right now, it’s tied for second-longest. The Wild has won six in a row at home and has points in 12 of the past 13 games (9-1-3, meaning it has accumulated 21 of its last possible 26 points).
The Wild, which leads the NHL with 1.97 goals-against a game and a .937 save percentage, leads the West with a +29 goal differential.
The Wild has outscored its last four opponents 17-5 and has outscored its last six home opponents, 24-8. The Wild has scored first in 10 of its last 12 games (12-4-3 when scoring first this season).
Colorado may have beaten the Wild twice in two meetings, but Zach Parise played in neither game. Parise has scored 13 goals and 30 points in 26 games against Colorado. Mikko Koivu has 40 points in 61 games against the Avs. Ryan Suter leads the NHL with a +22, Jared Spurgeon is tied for second at +18. Eric Staal, the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, has five goals and three assists in the past seven games.
That’s it for now.
I’ll be writing my game notebook on how fans shouldn’t expect a Nino Niederreiter/Mikael Granlund midseason contract extension anytime soon like last winter and the winter before with Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella. I’ll explain Chuck Fletcher’s rationale.
I also talked with USA world junior captain Luke Kunin, the 2016 Wild first-rounder, yesterday and play to write him later in the week or for my Sunday column as a world junior championships primer.
I’ll be on Fox Sports North tonight in the pregame show and first intermission.