Wild captain Mikko Koivu didn't practice Monday at MTS Center in Winnipeg, but coach Bruce Boudreau said it was just maintenance and indicated Koivu will man his usual spot in the middle of Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund on Tuesday night against the Jets.
Jets coach Paul Maurice didn't divulge his starter for the game, but Ondrej Pavelec has started seven of their past eight, so we shall see.
The Jets have won three of their past four but lost in Denver the other night -- Colorado's first regulation home win since Nov. 15, believe it or not.
On an aside, good win for the Avs. They improved to 26-50-3 since their clever "On your left" tweet to the Wild last January.
(They're now 43 points behind the Wild ... but with two games in hand. )
Back to the Jets, they can light ya up, but they have struggled defensively. They have allowed three or more goals in 12 consecutive games.
But this is a battle between the top-two scoring teams in the West.
Da Beauty League superstar Drew Stafford may return from a lower-body injury.
As for the Wild, Jordan Schroeder was a placeholder for Koivu between Zucker and Granlund at practice.
The big move at practice was Charlie Coyle moving from wing to center on the third line with Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville. Boudreau indicated this was only because Koivu was missing in practice and a way to get the legs of Coyle -- a big man -- moving.
But, that seemed hogwash, respectfully. Koivu missed didn't necessitate the change because there were still centers Erik Haula and Tyler Graovac. Haula centered the fourth line with Graovac moving to wing and Chris Stewart.
Coyle certainly thinks he's moving to center against the Jets, so this could be a way Boudreau's trying to get Coyle's game going and give him more than fourth-line minutes. The Jets are deep up front, so it would make sense to try to have a third big center.
Coyle, by the way, is due to tie Antti Laaksonen's team-record Ironman streak of 283 consecutive games against Winnipeg. He should break the mark at home Wednesday against Chicago. I'll write more about Coyle's record in Wednesday's paper.
I'm also working on a pretty cool player feature for Friday's paper.
I figured Darcy Kuemper would start vs. the Jets and Devan Dubnyk on the second of back-to-back to open an eight-game homestand against the Hawks. Plus, he's 8-0 against them.
But my gut now is Dubnyk starts vs. the Jets. While I think Wednesday's starter is up in the air, Kuemper is coming off a strong outing in Edmonton and the Wild's not in a position where it needs to be playing goalies back-to-back with travel, so I'd assume Kuemper starts at home if Dubnyk indeed plays the Jets.
The Wild's 9-6-3 in its past 18 games against Winnipeg. But, the games are always different in Winnipeg compared to at the X. The Wild has lost three in a row in Winnipeg, and is 3-4-1 since its move from Atlanta.
That's it for now. I'm writing about how good the Wild has been on the road for Tuesday's paper. Minnesota leads the NHL with 39 road points.
Boudreau did continue his raving about the Zucker-Koivu-Granlund line after practice. That will be in there. He also is a little miffed the Wild, a fast, hard-working team that "never hit" can't seem to draw power plays. Five on the road trip, and a league-low 140 power plays in 51 games. He had a couple funny quips.
I'll be on KFAN at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Fox Sports North before and during Tuesday's game.