The Wild looks for its first road win on the year, tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Minnesota will start goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who is coming off of a 28-save relief performance in a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks. After the win, Backstrom said that it is sometimes easier to make an appearance in relief because you don’t have time to think about things too deeply. Tonight, he will have plenty of time to get focused for the game.
Backstrom will face fellow countrymen in Saku Koivu, Mikko’s older brother, and Teemu Selanne. Mikael Granlund idolized the two Finnish-born superstars growing up and talked to WildTV about the thrill of lining up against the two. That interview will be posted shortly.
One thing that Head Coach Mike Yeo will have to monitor is line changes. He spoke about how he’d like to see quicker line changes, especially on the road. With the home team getting the last change on faceoffs, Yeo won’t have the chance to decide the line matchups, but likes the team’s depth and ability to match lines with anyone in the league.
At the morning skate, Matt Cullen was back skating with Granlund and Devin Setoguchi, while Pierre-Marc Bouchard joined Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. Cullen’s ability in the defensive zone will help the matchup game if Ducks’ Head Coach Bruce Boudreau tries to counter with a favorable offensive combination when matching up against the line.
Jared Spurgeon skated this morning, but is not expected to be in the lineup yet. He’s still considered day-to-day with a lower body injury. Forward Matt Kassian and defenseman Nate Prosser are expected to be tonight’s healthy scratches.