Good afternoon from Vancouver, where the Wild and Vancouver Canucks face off Tuesday night at 9 p.m. CT.
The Wild is 8-3 in its past 11 against the Canucks, 4-1 in its past five here in Vancouver after an 0-9-2 four-year run in this arena.
It sounds like Sven Baertschi and Philip Larsen could be back from injury and illness, respectively.
If Baertschi returns, it's uncertain if former Holy Angels teammate of the Reilly Brothers, Joseph Labate, will play his fourth NHL game or not on Vancouver's fourth line. He got into his first scrap the other night vs. (Wild fans will be happy) Cody McLeod.
On making his NHL debut against Arizona last week, Labate told me, "It was a dream come true playing my first NHL game. It was very special and being with this team, it’s a first-class organization and the players are really welcoming. I think I can play at this level and I’m confident in my abilities, but I think it’s been good. It’s definitely an eye opening experience. It’s the best league in the world for a reason."
The Canucks have won three games in regulation this season, but they have six overtime and shootout wins, including one of each by Markus Granlund.
Acquired last season by Vancouver from Calgary, Markus is playing the left side with Michael Chaput and Loui Eriksson.
This will be the fourth Markus vs. Mikael Granlund showdown (first with their parents in the stands watching it live) and first since Markus was dealt west. Mikael's Wild were 3-0 against the Calgary Flames in the head-to-head meetings.
Mikael Granlund has three assists, is plus-1, has five shots and is 19 for 35 (54.3 percent) in the faceoff circle. Markus Granlund has a goal and assist, an even rating, four shots and is 10 for 20 in the circle.
In 261 career games, Mikael Granlund has scored 36 goals (.137 per game) and 146 points (.559 per game). In 124 career games, Markus Granlund has scored 21 goals (.169 per game) and 40 points (.322 per game).
The scouting report for Markus Granlund seems very similar to Mikael.
“He’s smart, he’s competitive, he’s able to play center or wing for us, he’s one of our key penalty killers and he’s good on the power play,” said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. “So he’s filled a big role this year.
“In the summer, he came back and said, ‘I want to be a top-6 player,’ and he wanted to push himself to get in that role.”
Almost 14 months separate the oldest Mikael, 24, from Markus, 23.
Markus loved talking about this matchup, by the way, the way Mikko Koivu loved talking about the Saku meetings early in his career.
Wild's finishing up practice now. Same forward lines and D pairs, so it looks like Gustav Olofsson's season debut may wait. We shall see (I'll update this after we get Bruce Boudreau if I know).
I talked to Iowa coach Derek Lalonde about a variety of subjects, including Olofsson, Teemu Pulkkinen being named AHL Player of the Week with five goals and two assists in four games and Nick Seeler's K.O. of Connor Brickley the other night (see video below).
Scary moment as he was knocked out and had to be taken to a local hospital after being removed on a stretcher.
As you can see below, Brickley took a long, fast, illegal run at Zach Palmquist and Seeler was standing up for his defense partner.
"He was doing the right thing," Lalonde said of Seeler. "He was doing what he felt was right and instinctive, which we preach as a team all the time and I appreciate. Their guy took a run and put our D-man in a very vulnerable position. He stuck up for a teammate. It was one of those scary moments where he knocked [Brickley] out with the punch and his helmet came off and his head the ice. I think that's the last thing [Seeler] wanted to do. Nick came right to the coaches room immediately after the game and wanted to know how he was.
"Unfortunately the aftermath of it wasn’t good."
Lalonde says from what he understands from his trainer, Brickley is OK other than a concussion.