It’ll be a State of Hockey reunion at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night when the Minnesota Wild (30-19-6) host the New York Rangers (27-24-5).
As many as eight players who hail from Minnesota could take the ice for the game. There’s Matt Cullen (Virginia/Moorhead), Zach Parise (Bloomington), Nate Prosser (Elk River) and Alex Stalock (South St. Paul). Plus, recent call-up Nick Seeler (Eden Prairie) is set for his NHL debut.
The Rangers will have Vinni Lettieri (Excelsior), Neal Pionk (Hermantown) and Brady Skjei (Lakeville). The list doesn’t include captain Ryan McDonagh (St. Paul), since he’s out with an upper-body injury.
Eight Minnesota natives suiting up for an NHL game involving the Wild and an opponent would tie a record from Dec. 9, 2014 (per Elias Sports Bureau) when they played the New York Islanders.
The new face for the Wild is Seeler, who will become the 51st player from Minnesota to play in the NHL in this 2017-18 season. The defenseman, 24, comes up from Iowa and will wear No. 36. The Wild drafted him as a fifth-round pick in 2011. He won a pair of state titles in high school with the powerhouse Eden Prairie, played in the USHL, skated two seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and then played a year with the Gophers at the University of Minnesota.
Seeler racked up 109 penalty minutes in 57 games with Iowa last year. He’s not afraid to fight or defend his teammates.
The Wild, fresh off a shutout over the Chicago Blackhawks over the weekend, hope to extend their franchise-record point streak to 13 games on their home ice. They’re 9-0-3 at home going back to Dec. 27. They’re also tied with Vegas (9-0-3) for the longest home point streak in the league this year. Tuesday marks the Wild’s third-of-five games on the current homestand.
Minnesota also has at least one power-play goal in nine of its past 11 games overall. For those that like to believe in patterns of play, tonight could mark the valley of the Wild roller coaster. Their past five games: W-L-W-OTL-W. Just some food for thought as the Wild have struggled with consistency lately.
Last season, the Wild split the series with the Rangers, with each team winning on the road. The Wild are just 5-6-1 all-time at home against the Rangers. Charlie Coyle, who’s been on a hot streak lately, tallied five points in the series last year.
Assuming Marcus Foligno, 26, is in the lineup, he’ll play in his 400th career game. Mikko Koivu has just a few more; he’ll play in No. 899 on Tuesday. Nino Niederreiter is stuck on 99 career goals.
Jared Spurgeon has a four-game assist streak, matching his career-high. He has 14 points in his past 19 games and is part of a Wild defensive core that has the most points in the NHL (135). Parise has assists in his past three games as he continues to find his game after missing half the season following surgery.
The Rangers have won two in a row after having lost seven of eight before that. Mats Zuccarello leads the way in points and assists with 31 helpers and 40 points this season. J.T. Miller follows him (12-25—37) and Michael Grabner leads in goals with 23 (23-5—28).
These two teams will face each other again soon as the Wild go on a three-game, New York road trip following this homestand. They’ll play at Madison Square Garden Feb. 23 to face the Rangers.
Jonas Brodin (surgery on left hand), 2 games
Total man games lost: 104