Today's the one-year anniversary of John Torchetti's "home" debut against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The home debut came at TCF Bank Stadium, of course, in a 6-1 pounding of the Hawks.
Amazing how much is different with the Wild since.
Tonight, the Western Conference-leading Wild looks to move nine points up on the Hawks in the Central Division with a game in hand. By the time the Wild comes out of its bye Monday against Los Angeles, the Wild will have three games in hand.
So, the Wild, idle for awhile after tonight, would love to create some bigtime separation tonight on the Hawks rather than see that seven-point lead trimmed to five.
Certainly will be a playoff atmosphere tonight, and you get the Hawks will be up for it.
Good morning from Xcel Energy Center, where Devan Dubnyk faces, we assume, Corey Crawford tonight.
Matt Dumba is expected to return for the Wild, meaning Christian Folin and Nate Prosser would be the two scratches. Forward lines on yesterday's blog.
Bruce Boudreau expects a solid game from his team tonight before many of his players get out of dodge tomorrow. Mexico, Jamaica, Florida, Turks are some of the fun spots players are destined. Many of the married guys with kids are sticking around town.
Asked if he's looking forward to the bye, Boudreau said, "No. No. I've got nothing to do."
The delivery was perfecto.
A Wild victory, and it’ll at least temporarily have the most wins and points in the NHL. I say temporarily because the Caps would certainly jump back ahead during Minnesota's bye.
The Wild can become the first team with 40 wins and 86 points, which would be one short of last season’s 82-game total.
The Wild, 4-1-1 on its eight-game homestand, looks to make the record 17-6 of teams entering their bye.
The Wild has a nine-game point streak (8-0-1) against Chicago, but the lone loss came in overtime Feb. 8 in St. Paul. The Hawks have won six in a row on the road.
The Wild’s 14-4-3 against the Central Division after having 14 wins vs. the Central all of last season.
Devan Dubnyk is 8-0 with a .949 save percentage in the regular season against the Blackhawks with Minnesota. Jason Pominville has 19 points in the past 15 games. Since becoming a line Nov. 25, Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund have a combined 43 goals, 67 assists and 110 points and are plus-84.
Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, who led the NHL in scoring last season and was called a "little waterbug" in affectionate terms by Boudreau today," is tied for fifth with 60 points. He has 15 goals and 33 points in 38 games vs. Minnesota. Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa are tied for the team lead with 21 goals. Jonathan Toews, who scored the overtime winner against Minnesota two weeks ago, has 32 points in 34 games vs. the Wild.
Some other tidbits: The Wild leads the NHL with six players with at least 40 points. … Minnesota’s plus-62 goal differential ranks second in the NHL and is nearly triple the next-best goal differential in the Western Conference (San Jose, plus-22). … The Wild also leads the Western Conference with 195 goals scored and 3.36 goals per game.
Tomorrow's game notebook?
A real interesting conversation I had with Zach Parise about the fact it seems refs often let him get mugged in games. Parise is beyond professional about his take on the whole thing.
Also, as part of my conversation the other day with Vegas GM George McPhee (hopefully you read my Sunday column), he raved about the job Boudreau is doing here. I'll have those thoughts from Boudreau's old Caps boss in tomorrow's paper.
I'll be on Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission tonight talking trade deadline mostly, and remember, last Russo-Souhan Show before the trade deadline is tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Hell's Kitchen. Please come by, but make a reservation.