Jared Spurgeon will make his NHL debut tonight when the Wild wraps up a two-game road trip in Calgary. Justin Falk will sit out, which means Marek Zidlicky is good to go. Spurgeon will become the 29th player to play a game for the Wild this season, and the third to make his NHL debut (Matt Kassian and Marco Scandella are the other two).
Chuck Kobasew, who is back with the team after traveling to Vancouver for a family matter, is close to returning but will not face his former team tonight. That means Matt Kassian, who was recalled earlier today, will be in the lineup.
Jose Theodore gets the start in goal for the Wild tonight.
There was a time when the Pengrowth Saddledome was the least favorite building among any Wild player, ever. The Wild used to find ways to lose, no matter what, whether it be building a lead and crumbling, or just getting kicked in the teeth right off the opening puck drop.
That all changed just over a year ago thanks to one of Martin Havlat’s greatest performances in a Wild sweater. Havlat and the Wild were up against Miikka Kiprusoff, who was in the midst of one of his usual dominant performances against Minnesota. He was stopping everything in a 44-save goaltending exhibition. But Havlat helped set up James Sheppard’s tying goal, and then Marty cashed in on a beautiful give-and-go with Marek Zidlicky for the overtime game-winner.
The Wild won the next two games in Calgary, erasing the memory of a 3-18-4 record in the previous 25 games.
I bring this up because 1) The Wild could use a solid road performance after getting buried by the Avalanche on Saturday, and 2) Havlat has been stellar as of late, and he owns the Flames. He’s scored 21 points in 21 career games against Calgary, including the game-winner on November 5 at Xcel Energy Center.