The bye week is over.
The NHL All-Star break is over.
The Minnesota Wild have roughly two months left in their 2017-18 campaign as they try and grab a spot in the playoffs.
They’ll start with a game against an Eastern Conference foe on the road, the Columbus Blue Jackets, who sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 27-19-3 record, including 16-8-0 at home. The Wild (26-18-5) need all the points they can get to get out of sixth place in their division. Unfortunately, they have some tough road games coming up; they’re just 9-14-1 away from St. Paul.
Eyes will be on the Foligno brothers, after Blue Jackets captain Nick and younger brother, Wild forward Marcus missed out on the chance to face each other during the Wild’s home opener back in October; Marcus was out with an injury.
This would mark the 15th NHL meeting between the brothers.
Marcus added two assists to his season total in last Thursday’s game, and he has a goal and four assists in the past six games, and he has four goals and 12 assists for the season in 46 games. He’s the Wild’s hits leader with 122 this season. Older brother Nick has nine goals and 12 assists in 49 games.
The Blue Jackets won the first meeting, 5-4 in overtime, after scoring twice in the third period. Tyler Ennis scored a pair of goals in the game and Ryan Suter had a couple assists. The Wild are 8-14-4 all-time in Columbus and have points in seven of the last 12 meetings between the two clubs. They’re 4-4-1 in their last nine at Nationwide Arena.
Apparently, Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is already hot-and-bothered post-All-Star Break, and the Wild haven’t even hit the ice for a game yet.
Michael Russo of The Athletic reports: Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones missed the All-Star Game with the flu and will be allowed to play against the Wild on Tuesday night. According to NHL rules, any player named to the All-Star game but doesn’t play should be suspended for one game before or after the All-Star Game. The league reportedly asked Jones to stay home from the game, which is the reason they’re making the perceived exception to allow Jones to play.
Boudreau was not happy.
Rules aside, illnesses like the flu and mumps have hit the Wild bench pretty hard in the past, so there’s enough reason to be worried right there.
The Wild are coming off a lopsided, forgettable loss in Pittsburgh before the break, going down 6-0 before making it a 6-3 final score.
Suter has six goals and 26 assists this season; he is one assist away from 400 in his career. Eric Staal, the Wild’s lone All-Star representative, finished second in the passing challenge during the skills competition in Tampa. It was his fifth All-Star honor over his 14 seasons in the NHL. He continues to be the Wild leader in goals (20) and points (43) this season.
Artemi Panarin leads the Blue Jackets offensively with 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points. He’s followed by Jones and his eight goals and 24 assists.
In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky has 22 victories for Columbus, ranking him sixth in the NHL. He has a .920 save percentage and 2.46 GAA. Devan Dubnyk is 18-10-3 with a .916 save percentage and 2.68 GAA; he’s approaching 300 career games. Dubnyk was pulled after giving up the first four goals in the last game against Pittsburgh.
Nino Niederreiter (lower body), 7 games
Total man games lost: 101
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