Tonight Minnesota continues their road trip and will square off with the "sexy" pick to win the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning. I say sexy, because they are a pretty damn sexy team. They have a great core of young talent and the right amount of veteran leadership. (remind you of any team you may know?) The days of Martin St. Louis & Vincent Lecavalier are behind them. Instead, Stamkos leads a core of youth in Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and even the 19-year-old Jonathan Drouin who is having a fine rookie season. Still cant believe they were able to land Ryan Callahan last year, but it shows how committed they are for cup run.
The Minnesota Wild took it to the Lighting last month winning 7-2. I could barely keep up with the tweets, as I was wrist deep in bdubs for that one. The goaltending was obviously awful for Tampa and im sure the leagues top scoring team will have a much different look tonight. However they are trying to avoid losing three straight for the first time all year. Meanwhile, Minnesota is trying to win its fifth straight game. Because Mike Yeo cant stop and wont stop, it will be a different look from Thursday night. Mikael Granlund slides up to the top line with Zach Parise and Jason Pominville. If Mikko Koivu is good to go, he will center with red-hot Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine. Kyle Brodziak should dress tonight and play on the 4th line with Erik Haula and Ryan Carter. Now (bleep) could hit the fan if Koivu cant go tonight. Mikko missed nearly the entire 3rd period on Thursday with what he called cold/flu like symptoms.
It will be Darcy Kuemper between the pipes tonight and not Niklas Backstrom despite terrific career numbers against Tampa Bay. Minnesota is 11-4-2 lifetime against Tampa Bay and 4-2-2 at Amalie Arena. Thomas Vanek (for the millionth time) has great career numbers against Tampa with 42 points in 37 career games (25-17=42). Check back at 5:45 for the gamethread. GO WILD.