Same Lineup Expected in Denver

Happy Wednesday, Wild fans. After a late Wild practice yesterday, it was nice to get back to the usual 10:30 start time at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild had a spirited practice this morning, trying out a few new drills for about an hour. The team was packing up after practice and will head to the airport to fly to Denver this afternoon.

It was the same group of players on the ice this morning, with Nick Schultz being the only player missing from action. Todd Richards said Schultz’s return to the ice is still on hold and will be discussed with the medical staff later today, but we do know he will not be in the lineup tomorrow night.

In fact, it will be the same Wild lineup tomorrow in Denver that Minnesota used in its wins against Calgary. Niklas Backstrom will start, and Cam Barker and Brad Staubitz will be the healthy scratches. For the second day in a row, Richards praised the rookies on the blueline.

Richards talked about the Avs after practice today and the offensive power they have, remembering that the Wild saw it first hand earlier this season. He added that in addition to climbing the standings, a win tomorrow would make the two days off for Christmas much more enjoyable and put the team in a better frame of mind.

Here’s the link to today’ PONDcast from the incomparable Kevin Falness, with some funny reaction from the team’s holiday party yesterday and Kyle Brodziak on his stache (which was one of my Movember favorites).

I have to be the bearer of bad news and let you know you won’t be able to get your daily allotment of wit from wild.com’s live, in-game commentary during tomorrow’s game, as Glen Andresen and I will be out of commission with holiday duties. The good news is that since I’m not filling in for commentary, you can expect a Wild win. And don’t worry, it will be back to gameday as usual come Sunday.

Don’t forget, the World Junior Championship starts on Sunday in Buffalo, N.Y. It’s always a fun tournament to watch with a ton of great hockey from future NHL stars. Wild prospect Jason Zucker was named to the final U.S. roster this morning. He joins Wild prospects Johan Larsson and Johan Gustafsson (Sweden) and Erik Haula (Finland) at the tournament. Team USA is trying to repeat as champions for the first time in tournament history, and its third gold overall. The games will be televised on NHL Network.

Hope you all have safe and joyous holidays!

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