Wild Is Quiet And Focused In Denver

The Minnesota Wild has won five of its last six, while tonight’s opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, has lost three of its last four. But it was noted that the Wild’s morning skate was missing the hoots, hollers and laughing that you often hear. There were plenty of those when the Avs skated prior to the Wild hitting the ice.

Mike Russo of the Star Tribune brought it up to Todd Richards this morning, and Richards said he noticed it too. But he also sensed his team was focused, and of course, he tries not to read too much into a morning skate. Sometimes, the team can look great in the morning and struggle at night, and other times it can be just the opposite.

It will be the same lineup for the Wild tonight, with the exception of Jose Theodore getting the start in goal. Richards said the plan, even before the All-Star break, was to get Theo into this game because he needs to see some game action for the first time since January 11.

And there’s more good prospect news coming out of the Canadian Junior Leagues. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who must be the talk of Red Deer, Alberta these days, was named the VAUGHN WHL Goaltender of the Month for January.

The 20-year-old goaltender posting a 9-1-0-1 record through January with an eye-popping four shut-outs, maintaining a 1.74 goals-against average and 0.937 save percentage.  He started 11 of 14 games for the Rebels through January which included a nine game winning streak and key victories over Central Division rivals the Kootenay Ice and Medicine Hat Tigers. Kuemper’s efforts also earned him a Three Star selection in six games, including two 1st Star honors.

Kuemper currently leads WHL goaltenders in all major categories with a 1.92 goals-against average, 0.930 save percentage, 33 wins and 10 shut-outs. The Rebels have won 14 of their last 18 games and went on an 11-game win streak through January.  They currently sit 2nd in the WHL Eastern Conference with a 35-13-1-4 record for 75 points, just five back of the League leading Saskatoon Blades.

That’s it from Denver. Gametime is 8:00 p.m. central time. If you’ll recall, there was plenty of buildup to the last meeting between the Wild and Avs, and it turned into a pretty tame atmosphere. Perhaps things change tonight. I haven’t seen Brad Staubitz drop the gloves in awhile, so I’m making the call that it happens tonight.


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