The Wild resumes its three-game trip tonight in Ottawa against the Senators, a team that can light ya up offensively but usually gives up a ton. They rank eighth in goals per game but have allowed 3.03 goals against per game, fourth-highest in the NHL.
The dynamic of their blue line did change with the Dion Phaneuf acquisition last month. They're by average giving up about half a goal less per game.
The Wild, 6-2 on the road in the Torch era, has won three in a row on the road and looks to gain a two-point edge on the Avs tonight.
Looks like the same lineup for the Wild tonight because as the players hit the first bus, Jason Zucker, Chris Porter and Mike Reilly were still on the ice getting bagged by the assistants.
Devan Dubnyk vs. Craig Anderson.
The Wild are tied for first in the NHL with Chicago and Florida by having 11 goal scorers with at least 10. One of those is Zucker, and John Torchetti said just like the Wild got Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville going again (although Vanek's in a dry spell from the goal department again), it's critical it gets Zucker going again, too. He has one goal in his past 21 games (since Jan. 7, and that doesn't includes the two scratches and six out with a concussion).
"When we get Zucks back in, we have to get going because he can be a big asset for us moving forward," Torchetti said.
If it were me -- win or lose tonight, I play Zucker in New Jersey. That game has the capability of being one big ugly muck-fest (I already bought Vivarin, an IV and espresso beans for Thursday's game), so I think Zucker's speed and offensive ability would be a good thing to infuse into the lineup.
Here was my gamer lede from the Jan. 9 Wild-Devils snoozer that really kicked off the Wild's string of losses:
Here’s one guarantee after Sunday’s nationally-televised game at Xcel Energy Center: Wild-Devils won’t be on NBC Sports Network again.
These two teams could meet in the Stanley Cup Finals and NBC would probably find a way to farm it off on another entity.
In one of the worst hockey games imaginable, in a quiet arena maybe because of a season-ending Vikings hangover, the frigid temperature outside, the mind-numbing display fans were forced to sit through or all of the above, the Wild fell to the injury-riddled Devils, 2-1, one night after beating the conference-leading Stars in Dallas.
Not much else going on.
Beware of Erik Karlsson tonight. I'm writing about him in tomorrow's game notebook, and he has 70 points to lead all NHL D and should shatter his career-high of 78 points this season.
The Sens also have a bunch of 20-goal scorers -- Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and the red-hot Zack Smith.
Also talents like Mika Zibanejad and Charlie Coyle's old BU linemate, Alex Chiasson.
Torchetti was real pleased with yesterday's practice and said the Wild had a team dinner last night to get some "good bonding time" in.
Penalty killing will be big tonight. The Wild ranks 28th, the Senators rank 29th, and as you know, the Wild has scored in a franchise-record 13 straight road games on the power play.
Dubnyk and Matt Dumba will be on NHL Network tomorrow after practice in Newark. NHL Network's studio is Major League Baseball's in Secaucus, and they're going over to the studio for some batting practice.
Also, something to look forward to: Nino Niederreiter's apparently penning a Players' Tribune piece right now. I told him I'd grade him for grammar, although anybody who reads my quick hit blogs know I could be graded for same thing.
Talk to ya tonight.