Minnesota Wild vs Anaheim Ducks
Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul, MN | 7:00 PM CST
Fox Sports North | Wild Radio Network | Fox Sports GO App
Randy Carlyle may have had a decent season in his first season back with the Ducks after Anaheim GM axed Bruce Boudreau. But Carlyle's not-so-mighty Ducks squad has been reeling hard this season with zero positivity in sight. So while Boudreau is going to want to beat the team that fired him, perhaps unfairly, especially while they're down, the Wild aren't in the position to gloat.
Sitting at 5th place in the Central Division, the Wild are far away from the team in late October that climbed to 2nd place in the Central, not to mention top three in the West. The Wild need wins in the worst way, no matter how they come. That's why Tuesday's shootout win over the Kings was not to be poo-pooed, or even booed by the hometown crowd. By beating the Ducks on home ice, it will help the Wild place some distance between them and Anaheim, who trails Minnesota by just 2 points.
With how bad December has gone for the Wild, Minnesota still occupies the 2nd Wild Card spot in the West by virtue of a tie-breaker against the Oilers, whom also have 49 points.
Anaheim is 0-6-4 in their last ten games having lost lost recently to the same Red Wings team that came into Xcel Energy Center and absolutely embarrassed the State of Hockey last weekend.
Anaheim has already shipped Andrew Cogliano to the Stars for Devin Shore, and just last night, Pontus Aberg, whom was drafted by Paul Fenton 37th overall in 2012 when he was assistant GM of the Predators, was acquired in exchange for Justin Kloos in a trade.
That will be the biggest story tonight. Aberg comes in, having been scratched his last 4 games in Anaheim, looking to stick it to the team that traded him away. It will be interesting to see where he slots in on the Wild, but his right handed shot will be a sight for sore eyes on the Wild forward corps.
Alex Stalock made a some big-time saves to keep the Kings at bay, but expect Devan Dubnyk to get the start in net for the Wild. Dubnyk is 7-8-2 in 18 career games against the Ducks with a .924 save percentage.
On the other end, expect John Gibson, who really has been stellar on a crap team this year. He’s 15-15-8 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.76 GAA. Just past the halfway point of the season, Gibson has faced almost 66 percent of all the shots he faced last year. At least when the Ducks had problems scoring under Boudreau, Bruce adapted his system to keep the puck out of their net. They were able to win a Pacific Division title that year, by the way. Carlyle must not be doing that.
Oh, and I almost forgot, after the trade of Aberg, the Ducks called up young stud Troy Terry. Terry was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and was a stand-out, plus national champion as a member of the Denver Pioneers. In 32 games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL) Terry scored 16 goals and had 21 assists this season.
Puck drop is just after 7 PM local time. The Wild cannot let this game get away from them.