A lot has happened with the Minnesota Wild since we've last seen them. Back then they were on the outside of the playoff picture, and sinking like a rock. The Blues won 4-1 that night, contributing to the impending doom surrounding coach Mike Yeo. The annual "Yeo is going to get fired" rumors actually came true a week later. After a stretch where the Wild lost 13 of 14 games (1-11-2) and 8 in a row, a change was made. The Wild relieved Yeo of his duties, and brought up their AHL head coach John Torchetti to take over. They were hoping he had the right stuff to bring the team back together again.
Since then, the Wild have really turned things around. Since the coaching change, they've gone 8-3-0. They won their first four games in a row, scoring at least 5 goals each time. The last was a 6-1 blowout of Chicago in front of 50,000 fans in their first outdoor game. Where they once couldn't score to save their coach's job, now they were scoring in bunches. They've since cooled off on the scoring a little bit, but have continued to win games. They come into tonight's matchup having won another 4 in a row, including yesterday in the shootout against Buffalo. This hot streak has them hangin' tough as the last wild card slot in the playoffs, pushing Colorado out of the picture. Now, they need to pocket more points as the season winds down, and build a cushion between them and the Avs.
Last year, it was Devan Dubnyk that saved Yeo's job. The Wild made a trade for Dubnyk, he shutout the Sabres that night and never looked back. He started 38 straight games to finish the season, posting a 27-9-2 record and a 1.78 GAA and .936 Sv% stat line. This season, Dubs has looked a little more human, but is still putting up some decent numbers. In 52 appearances this year, he has a record of 25-21-5 and a .919 Sv%. Since yesterday's game was in the afternoon, they may go back to him again. If not, then we're looking Darcy Kuemper in net. In his 17 games, he's gone 6-4-5 with a .918 Sv%. With this being a divisional game, I'd expect Dubnyk would get the start.
Yesterday, the Wild welcomed back Jason Zucker back from concussion. He'll continue to work himself back into the lineup tonight. In a similar way, the Blues are expected to get Jori Lehtera back tonight. Yet another shuffling of linemates will result from this, so we'll have to wait and see what shakes out. Once again, Jake Allen will get the start tonight. He'll be starting every single game for the rest of the year, or at least until Elliott is healthy again.
Keep an eye out for special teams tonight. The Blues are currently 6th in the league, converting on 21.8% of their power play opportunities. The Wild come into this game ranked 28th on the PK, and have allowed 8 goals in the last 13 PK situations. The last time we faced the Wild, the Blues were 3-for-6 on the PP. Let's try it again, eh?
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Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:00 PM St Louis time tonight, and the GameDay Thread should drop shortly beforehand. This is a national television broadcast, so enjoy the creative pronunciations of NBC Sports Network tonight. The radio call will be on KMOX 1120 as usual, and I expect there will be an uptick in listeners tonight. Please do drop by the GDT tonight, and in the meantime catch up on the latest episode of Beyond Checkerdome. Also, while we're bringing things back from the 80s and 90s..