Carolina Hurricanes at Minnesota Wild: Game Preview 10-24-13

Jamie Kellner

Captain Eric Staal plays in his 700th NHL game as the Hurricanes visit the State of Hockey to take on the Minnesota Wild.

Carolina Hurricanes at Minnesota Wild
October 24, 2013 - 8:00 pm ET
Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, MN
TV - SportsSouth
Radio - 99.9 The Fan

SB Nation Rival Blog: Hockey Wilderness (twitter @hockeywildernes)

Hurricanes Record: 4-2-3 (11 pts.)
Wild Record: 4-3-3 (11 pts.)

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight's game will be broadcast on SportsSouth alternative channels instead of on Fox Sports Carolinas. Please make note of the channels. The Canes have conveniently linked a channel guide for the viewing area on their Broadcast page.


The Hurricanes begin the second phase of their 2013 State Fair road trip with a set of back-to-back games against two very tough Western Conference opponents, facing the Minnesota Wild tonight and then heading to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night.

The Hurricanes last played on Saturday night in a 4-3 win against the New York Islanders. The Wild snapped a three-game losing streak with a home win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. In head-to-head match-ups the Hurricanes hold the advantage with an 8-3-3 record, but the two teams haven't faced each other since the 2011-12 season (5-3 win in Minnesota).

The Canes were the beneficiary of a schedule break that allowed them to return home in the middle of their four-game road trip, and the coaches were able to work on all aspects of their game in three solid practice days at RCI (post-practice audio from Kirk Muller - MondayTuesdayWednesday, also a few photos from Wednesday's practice).

Patrick Dwyer won't be in the line-up tonight after suffering an upper body injury at Monday's practice. Radek Dvorak will take Dwyer's spot.

Captain Eric Staal, who is currently riding a four-game points streak, will be playing in his 700th NHL game tonight. Michael Smith featured Staal's latest milestone yesterday in his Tracking The Storm blog.

Justin Faulk, who currently leads the team in time on ice and is tied for most points from a defenseman, will be returning to his home state and has about 30 friends and family members in attendance tonight and whatnot.

Decisions about the return of Tim Gleason (concussion) or Elias Lindholm (upper body) will wait at least through today's morning skate. Both players have been practicing with the team. If Gleason returns, he will have to be activated from IR, which would require another roster move (perhaps Dwyer to IR). Should that happen, Gleason will enjoy a milestone of his own as he will be suiting up for his 600th NHL game.

In net, Cam Ward is 3-0-1 with a 2.80 GAA against the Wild. Anton Khudobin, who is recovering from a lower body injury and should begin skating in the next week, is the only member of either roster who has played for both clubs. Khudobin was drafted by the Wild (2004, seventh round) and played in six games for them between 2009 and 2011.

Line-ups based on Wednesday's practice:

Forwards

Jiri Tlusty

Eric Staal

Alexander Semin

Nathan Gerbe

Jordan Staal

Radek Dvorak

Jeff Skinner

Riley Nash

Tuomo Ruutu

Drayson Bowman

Brett Sutter

Kevin Westgarth

Elias Lindholm

Patrick Dwyer

Defensemen

Andrej Sekera

Justin Faulk

Jay Harrison

Ryan Murphy

Tim Gleason

Ron Hainsey

Mike Komisarek

Brett Bellemore

Goaltenders

Cam Ward

Justin Peters


The Wild have assembled quite an impressive roster by adding big name talent that has been better known elsewhere, with such notables as Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (acquired in free agency in 2012), Jason Pominville (acquired via trade with Buffalo Sabres), and Matt Cooke (acquired in free agency this summer).

Captain Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise lead the team in points with seven each, and Parise and Pominville are tied for team goals with four each. The Wild are a low scoring team, near the bottom of the league in terms of goals per game and even-strength goals. Where the Wild excel is on special teams, where they are fourth in the NHL in power play time per game and fifth in power play success (25%). They are also strong in limiting chances, leading the NHL with the lowest shots allowed per game (21.2) and also fourth in the NHL in goals allowed per game.

Defenseman Jonas Brodin only played through the first minutes of Tuesday's game versus the Predators when he took a puck to the face and suffered a broken cheekbone. He'll be out tonight, as will Keith Ballard (upper body), Mike Rupp (IR - knee) and Charlie Coyle (IR-knee).

Head coach Mike Yeo has not announced a starting netminder. Niklas Backstrom has returned to the line-up to back up Josh Harding but has not started a game after suffering a knee injury earlier in the season. However, tonight the Wild pay tribute to Harding's Masterton trophy win with Harding's Hope Night, so it's expected the honoree will get the start. Harding is an impressive 4-2-1 with a .953 save percentage and 0.96 GAA so far this season.

How the Wild are expected to line up (from Wild.com website):

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Justin Fontaine
Dany Heatley - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter - Kyle Brodziak - Matt Cooke
Torrey Mitchell - Zenon Konopka - Stephane Veilleux

Jared Spurgeon - Ryan Suter
Nate Prosser - Marco Scandella
Mathew Dumba - Clayton Stoner

Josh Harding
Niklas Backstrom


We'll have the open game thread ready to roll at 7:30 pm. See you there.


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