Let the jokes fly about this game being a season opener for the Minnesota Wild. After all, it feels like an eternity since they last played in their home opener Saturday night, a 5-4 overtime loss to Columbus.
The five-day layoff comes after a four-day break last week. It’s actually turned into a bit of a blessing, with so many Wild players out injured. The Wild will make up for lost time with six games in 12 days to finish out the month of October.
But the Wild (1-1-2) are back – on the road – to take on the Winnipeg Jets (3-3-0) in hopes of getting their second win of the season. With a game at Calgary on Saturday night, it will be the first back-to-back situation of 15 this season.
The Wild went 4-1-0 against the Jets last year and are 11-7-3 in their last 21 contests against them. Both teams are coming off losses to Columbus.
The Wild recalled a cluster of Iowa players as reinforcements for last Saturday’s game, then sent them back this week for salary cap reasons. Wednesday, Iowa forwards Landon Ferraro, Luke Kunin and Zack Mitchell returned to the big club to practice with the team Thursday. Mitchell scored his first career point, and Ferraro scored his first goal since March 1, 2016 in Saturday’s game.
As for the injuries, Mikael Granlund is a game-time decision this weekend. He and Marcus Foligno practiced with the Wild on Thursday. Foligno should be back, wearing a full cage helmet.
Chris Stewart leads the team this season in points (six) and goals (four). He’s scored at least a point in each of the first four games. With a point tonight, he’d be the fourth player in Wild history to score a point in the first five games of the season along with Zach Parise (2013), Andrew Brunette (2009) and Pavol Demitra (2006), according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Veteran Eric Staal will skate against Winnipeg for the 69th time. He leads the Wild with 61 points against the Jets (26-35—61). He’s scored a goal in each of the last three games this season.
The Wild have just one win this season, against Chicago, but a shootout and overtime loss. Coach Bruce Boudreau noted after the Columbus game how the Wild has held leads in the third period, only to let them slip away with just one win to show for it.
Nino Niederreiter (high left ankle sprain)
Charlie Coyle (right fibula fracture)
Marcus Foligno (left facial fracture)
Mikael Granlund (groin)
Zach Parise (undisclosed)
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