Wilderness Walk: Game Day Edition

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Your Minnesota Wild are back at home tonight after a 4 game road trip where they acquired 4 of 8 possible points. They welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to town who have won 4 of their past 6 but will be without Steven Stamkos for probably the last game before his return.

Good morning Wilderness! Welcome back home as the Minnesota Wild return to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul tonight to kick off their final 2 games before they break for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Tonight the Wild will welcome the Steven Stamkos-less Tampa Bay Lightning to town in an attempt to earn some payback for an October loss the Wild suffered in Tampa.

Of course, the big news that broke yesterday was not with this Wild squad, or even with the Tampa Bay Lightning who are on the verge of getting their super-star forward back from injury. Coming out of New York, reports are Wild fan base über-crush Thomas Vanek has declined an offer from the New York Islanders that is reportedly worth 50 million dollars over 7 years. If this is true, Vanek's time in New York is limited, and his departure before the March 5th trade deadline is certainly an inevitability. The only question on everyone's mind is, just where will he land?

Stop counting your chickens folks, unless GMCF gets one sweet bargain of a deal, this ain't happenng. Something tells me Garth Snow, Islanders GM, is probably not keen on handing us another great deal after sending us Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck. Anything is possible I suppose, but I wouldn't count on it.

At any rate, tonight's game will not require a pot of coffee to stay up for. Those nights are few and far between these days but they can still be torture. Puck drop is at 7 pm, but before we get there we must as always, walk.

Wild News

Zach Parise named NHL's First Star of the Week; Talking Thomas Vanek | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com
Some quick bits around the team as well as the league.

Minnesota Wild's Jared Spurgeon could return to lineup Tuesday - TwinCities.com
Spurgeon should be good to go tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Perhaps Keith Ballard can sit down now, he's done enough already.

Minnesota Wild: What to do with the defense next season | isportsweb
Coming this July to a Wild squad near you, the return of Nick Schultz?

Should the Minnesota Wild Split Up Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu? - Yahoo Sports
A question that we have a long time to answer as it appears Koivu won't see any NHL action prior to the Olympic break.

Wild's emerging Granlund shows he's ready for his close-up | Star Tribune
Granlund getting some love in this focus piece brought to you by Russo.

Wild notes: Koivu unlikely to play this week; Sochi status unclear | Star Tribune
Koivu's immediate future seems to be settled. Whether or not he will Kaptain Team Finland in the Olympics is still unknown.

Tending the Fields

Mallards stand still at trade deadline; Heemskerk called up again
The Quad-City Mallards will chase a Central Hockey League championship with the majority of the current roster intact.

Off the Trail #VanekWatch

HockeyBuzz.com - Tony Dean - WildHBcommunity:Vanek Watch is in Full Effect
Tony, Mikael Granlund is not the "Finnish Jesus" as you put it, he is of course "FBJ" or "Finnish Baby Jesus". C'mon man!

#VanekWatch: Team Austria's Captain Declines "Lucrative" Deal by Isles
Traded once already this season, scoring winger Thomas Vanek could be on the move again after reportedly turning down a "lucrative" offer by the Isles.

Thomas Vanek rejects Islanders offer; GM Snow looking at trade: Report | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
More on the Thomas Vanek saga.

John Tortorella’s auto-tuned ‘Don’t Push Me’ is a must-watch (Video) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
I love these auto-tuned youtube deals.

Video: Roenick goes one-on-one with Duchene | ProHockeyTalk
Duchene spots Roenick to the blue line and they race, guess who wins.

Flames lose Ramo (MCL) ’til post-Olympic break, recall Ortio | ProHockeyTalk
Finnish goalie had been a key part of Calgary's recent success.

NHL Recap - Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins - Feb 03, 2014 - CBSSports.com
James Neal scored at 3:05 of overtime, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on Monday night.

NHL Recap - Vancouver Canucks at Detroit Red Wings - Feb 03, 2014 - CBSSports.com
Justin Abdelkader scored early in the second period and again in the final seconds while Jimmy Howard finished off a shutout that Jonas Gustavsson started for the Detroit Red Wings in a 2-0 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.

NHL Recap - Colorado Avalanche at New Jersey Devils - Feb 03, 2014 - CBSSports.com
Ryan O'Reilly scored a power-play goal 28 seconds into overtime and the Colorado Avalanche rallied for a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.

NHL Recap - Winnipeg Jets at Montreal Canadiens - Feb 02, 2014 - CBSSports.com
Michael Frolik scored in the third period to give the Winnipeg Jets a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday afternoon. Tobias Enstrom also scored for the Jets and Al Montoya stopped 30 shots.

From Russia with Love

Jonathan Quick’s mask doesn’t say ‘support our troops’ this time, it just implies it (Photo) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
I'm sure the IOC will come down with some sort of propaganda based argument to deny Quick's mask this time around as well.

Slovak setback: Agent says Gaborik a ‘long shot’ for Olympics | ProHockeyTalk
Columbus forward has been sidelined since mid-December with a broken collarbone.

Tired of U.S., Canada’s embarrassing wins, Olympic women’s hockey gets format change | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
Finding it was a little too easy for the U.S. and Canadian women's hockey team to get into the medal round, they just made it easier. Call it, a mercy rule for the "have-not's".

Sochi Olympics: U.S. men's hockey eager to put 'Miracle' behind them - TwinCities.com
The "Miracle On Ice" forever glows as the pinnacle of USA Hockey, but it also casts a long shadow over a generation of American Olympians born after 1980.

2014 Winter Olympics: Gustav Nyquist named to Team Sweden Men's Ice Hockey Team - Winging It In Motown
Team Sweden announced their replacement for Johan Franzen on their Olympic Squad on Monday.

Enemy News

Steven Stamkos reportedly looking to return to Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday | FOX Sports on MSN
He's close, but it looks like the depleted Wild will get a reprieve from the great Steven Stamkos today.

The Official Web Site - Tampa Bay Lightning
Stop by the Lightning's official team site for all the latest team news.

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