The Eastern Conference swing for the Minnesota Wild (5-6-2) rolls on with a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (9-7-0). The Wild look to end their two-game losing streak with a much better effort than last time out, a loss which head coach Bruce Boudreau called “embarrassing.”
As has been the case in many games this season, personnel issues are the story headed into the game.
The plan was to have backup goaltender Alex Stalock start for the Wild, but he headed back to Minnesota for the birth of his second child. So, Dubnyk will once again be in the net, and the Wild called up Niklas Svedberg from Iowa while Stalock is away.
Dubnyk reportedly learned of the Stalock news early this morning via text message. The Wild will look to their No. 1 goaltender -- 4-5-1 with a 3.03 GAA and .907 save percentage -- to bounce back from giving up four goals to the Bruins the other night. He was pulled from the game, and Stalock played the third period. Dubnyk is 5-1-1 with a 2.46 GAA and .922 save percentage lifetime against the Maple Leafs.
This probably throws a kink into the goalie schedule for the Wild, since they play back-to-back games with a contest Thursday in Montreal.
The Maple Leafs will be missing a key member of its group: Auston Matthews. He’s out of the lineup with an unspecified upper-body injury. It’s the first game the 20-year-old and 2016 first overall draft pick will miss in his young NHL career – he’s just two games away from 100. He leads his team with 19 points (10 G, 9 A). Toronto has been a healthy team up until this point, with just four total man games lost.
History is on the Wild’s side against Toronto; they’ve won seven straight games against them and are 10-8-0 overall. Six of those seven games have been decided by one goal. The Wild beat Toronto with a pair of 3-2 victories last season, with Dubnyk getting both wins with a .943 save percentage in the two games. The Maple Leafs haven’t beaten the Wild in more than four years -- since Oct. 15, 2013. Patrick Marleau leads his team in with 59 games against the Wild (23 G, 18 A).
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon has scored five points in his last six games and leads the Wild with eight assists and 10 points.
The Maple Leafs NHL history runs deep, and so do the connections with Wild personnel. Toronto drafted Boudreau in 1975, and he played 134 games for the club with 69 points over six seasons from 1976-82. Winger Daniel Winnik is a Toronto native and played parts of two seasons (2014-16) with the Maple Leafs. Wild assistant coaches John Anderson (1977) and Darby Hendrickson (1990 draft) were Toronto picks and played games there. The Wild’s first head coach, Jacques Lemaire, now serves as Toronto’s special assignment coach.
As part of the home-and-home series between these teams this year, the Wild will host the Maple Leafs on Dec. 14.
Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 12 games
Charlie Coyle, IR, (right fibula fracture), nine games
Total man games lost: 42
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