The Wild is looking for a jolt to help snap out of its recent cold streak and will get one tonight against the Calgary Flames. Center Matt Cullen returns to the Minnesota lineup after missing the last six games with a lower-body injury.
Before suffering the injury, he was the centerpiece to the club’s second line. He, along with Devin Setoguchi, and either Jason Zucker or Pierre-Marc Bouchard, provided the Wild with depth in scoring, which also relieved pressure from the team’s top line of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle. With Cullen back in the lineup, the team hopes to rekindle some of that March magic heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo talked to the media about the impact Cullen has on the lineup and what the team needs to bring to tonight’s game in Calgary. WildTV will have that video shortly.
Cullen will center Setoguchi and Zucker. Kyle Brodziak will skate between Bouchard and Jason Pominville. Mike Rupp and Cal Clutterbuck will be on the wings with Torrey Mitchell.
Cullen also spoke to the media about returning to the lineup. Parise spoke about Cullen’s return and what it means to the team.
Updated: Cullen speaks to WildTV
Updated: Parise talks with WildTV
Defenseman Ryan Suter didn’t participate in the team’s morning skate, but will be in the lineup tonight. He’ll be with his usual partner Jonas Brodin. Jared Spurgeon will be paired with Brett Clark, while Tom Gilbert will skate with Clayton Stoner.
Niklas Backstrom will again be in net against the Flames. While the offense has sputtered, Backstrom has been a rock in his last four outings, posting a 1.24 goals against average and a .948 save percentage.
Mikael Granlund will be the forward scratched, while defensemen Justin Falk and Nate Prosser will be out. Zenon Konopka is out with a lower-body and didn’t travel with the team to Calgary.
Tonight’s game will be broadcast at 8 p.m. State of Hockey Time on FOX Sports North Plus. Find the local channel guide, here. The game will be on KFAN 100.3FM.
It will be a standings watch night around the league, especially in the jam-packed Western Conference. Along with the Wild and Flames matchup, there are four games with playoff implications in the Western Conference tonight: Chicago takes on Dallas (two points back of the Wild); Vancouver (five points ahead) skates in Nashville; Columbus (two points back) is in Colorado; and San Jose (two points up) is in Phoenix (four points back). Hold on to your hats, the last two weeks is going to be one heck of a race.