With less than 400 miles between St. Paul and Winnipeg, the Wild has a new geographical rival in the Jets. The first time the Wild and Jets faced off, it was a heated affair complete with hard hits and scrums after the whistle. If tonight’s game is anything like that contest, the Wild will need to establish a physical presence and it might come from hit-wizard Cal Clutterbuck.
Clutterbuck practiced with the team at morning skate and said that he felt a lot better today than he has in the last 24 to 48 hours. Clutterbuck suffered a charley horse against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and missed Tuesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. He is considered a game-time decision, but was off the ice immediately after practice, which is typically a good sign.
“I think there’s a lot at stake for both teams,” Clutterbuck said. “At this time of year, if there isn’t some sort of animosity or a little extra charge, there’s something wrong.
“I’m expecting it to be high tempo and high pace.”
If Clutterbuck is unable to play, Hastings-native Jeff Taffe will be in.
The Wild also will dress forward Cody Almond. The 6 foot 2 inch forward is a physical player who can spark a bench with a big hit. He considers tonight an opportunity to prove he can contribute.
Missing from the lineup will be defensemen Marek Zidlicky. Addressing the media, Head Coach Mike Yeo said that the move is a coaching decision. Zidlicky has been an oft discussed topic of trade recently and Yeo said, “Focus-wise it would be a tough game for him to go out and perform the way we need him to,” amongst the swirling speculation.
Niklas Backstrom will return to the net after sitting out Tuesday against the Ducks.