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Wild vs. Flyers: Game preview, how to watch, tale of the tape

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We break down everything there is to know about tonight's Wild game.

Claude Giroux and the Broad Street Bullies head to the Xcel Energy Center tonight.
Claude Giroux and the Broad Street Bullies head to the Xcel Energy Center tonight.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

MINvsPHI

As Wild fans, we're going to be spending our day collectively holding our breath waiting on the status of Mikko Koivu. The Wild's captain took an awkward fall into the boards early in Tuesday's game at Columbus and was hospitalized after spitting up blood. The hospitalization was called a precaution, and the Wild should release more information as to his status later today.

While Zach Parise is probably the Wild's best player, Koivu is probably the one most essential to this team. And it's not for intangibles, either. Not only has Koivu enjoyed an offensive renaissance this season, he's also the best center the Wild have, and it's not really even close. No other center in Minnesota's arsenal can match Koivu's combination of offensive, defensive, and faceoff prowess. We've seen in previous seasons that the Wild tend to fall apart in Koivu's absence, so while the Wild should remain cautious with his health, it'll also be vital for Koivu to get back as soon as he can.

Especially since the road to the playoffs isn't going to get any easier. The Wild are fourth in the Central, and the fifth-place team (the Nashville Predators) made a big move to address their most glaring weakness, acquiring #1-center Ryan Johansen. They paid a hefty price to do so, giving the high-upside Seth Jones to Columbus, but they dealt from a position of strength. Even if in the long run they'd be better off with Jones over Johansen, it's hard to argue that the Predators aren't a better team now.

Oh! By the way, there's an opponent in tonight's game! The Philadelphia Flyers head to the Xcel Energy Center, and they also made a trade yesterday. But in a contrast to Nashville, their move wasn't made with getting better in mind, as they essentially dumped Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the LA Kings.

Philadelphia has been a bit of a weird team this season. They actually get a decent amount of shots, but they're 29th in scoring. They give up a ton of shots, but opponents haven't been able to cash in. Jakub Voracek has been a big reason for the Flyers' offensive struggles. After a breakout season where he tallied 22 goals and 59 assists, he's had no luck this season. His four goals on 112 shots work out to a 3.6% shooting percentage- even worse than Jason Pominville's.

Their goaltending has been a strength for them this season. When Steve Mason faltered earlier, Michael Neuvirth stepped in and has been a rock since, posting a .934 Sv% that ranks second in the league. Neuvirth is 27, so it's possible that he could be entering his prime as a goalie, but it's more likely that he's going to fall back to the middle of the pack eventually. If that happens, it's going to be an even longer season for the Flyers.

Another player to watch out for tonight is Shayne Gostisbehere, a rookie defenseman out of Union College. Gostisbehere was a third-round pick who's stepped into Philly's lineup and posted 7 goals and 9 assists while showing a decent ability to control play for a 22-year-old. He's riding a 15% shooting percentage, but he's definitely been one of the few bright spots for the Flyers.

Puck drops at 7 tonight, so let's check out the tale of the tape.

Wild vs Flyers Tale of the Tape

Projected Lineups

Minnesota Wild

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Zach Parise

Mikael Granlund

Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker

Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter

Thomas Vanek

Erik Haula

Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter

Jarret Stoll

Ryan Carter

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Ryan Suter

Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella

Mathew Dumba

Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk

The Corpse of Niklas Backstrom

Philadelphia Flyers

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Jakub Voracek

Claude Giroux

Wayne Simmonds

Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier

Brayden Schenn

Chris VandeVelde

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Ryan White

Matt Read

Scott Laughton

R.J. Umberger

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Michael Del Zotto

Radko Gudas

Nick Schultz

Mark Streit

Brandon Manning

Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies

Steve Mason

Michael Neuvirth