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Wild vs. Blues: Game preview, Tale of the Tape, how to watch

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The Wild make some bold scratches, a foot gets broken, and the Wild's recent success against St. Louis is a house of cards.

Should everyone be healthy scratched on the Wild tonight?
Should everyone be healthy scratched on the Wild tonight?
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues

7:00 PM Central
Watch on Fox Sports-North if you're a glutton for punishment
For Blues Coverage, visit St. Louis Game Time

Despite starting Thursday's game with a 2-0 lead by the first intermission, the Wild dropped another game (this time to the Rangers) to go 3-9-3 in their last 15 games. Still out of the playoffs, and looking for any way to climb back into the bubble (so long as it doesn't involve making any sort of changes to their lineup, power play personnel, roster, coaching staff, etc), Minnesota heads to St. Louis to try to get momentum from a big divisional win.

You know what team hasn't been like the Wild at all? The Blues. The Wild have had a healthy lineup for the most part of the season, and have only managed to hang outside of the Wild Card bubble. The Blues? Not so much. They've actually overcome adversity this year- adversity that wasn't a result of just playing bad hockey. They've been in the Top-5 teams in the league for man games lost this year, losing Top-6 forwards like Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz for long stretches, and missing star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for a decent stretch as well.

Sounds like a rough year, right? Not to mention that David Backes, Jori Lehtera, and Alex Pietrangelo aren't quite enjoying the same production they had last year. But where are they in the standings? 3rd in the Central, 5th overall.

The Wild wish they were the Blues.

There is a bit of good news for Minnesota: The Blues haven't had the Wild's number like they used to. Before 2015, the Blues' physicality proved to be a terrible match-up for the smaller Wild, giving St. Louis a lot of easy victories. But that tide changed last January, and Minnesota's sported an 8-3-1 record in their last 12 matchups. Good, right?

Well, kinda. The good thing is that Dubnyk's been really good against St. Louis (.920 Sv% since arriving in Minnesota). The bad thing? Minnesota's needed Dubnyk to be that good, they've been out-shot by the Blues in head-to-head matchups 345-287 (55% of shots). If St. Louis figures out Dubnyk, the Wild are in big trouble.

There are two big news items with the Wild today. The first is that Jonas Brodin is out for 3-6 weeks with a broken foot. Brodin's had a rough season, but this will probably impact the Wild. Whatever Brodin's faults have been in terms of being a complete non-factor on offense, he's still pretty good defensively, and capable of playing 20 minutes a night. His being out will mean more ice time for Nate Prosser and untested players in Christian Folin, Mike Reilly, and Gustav Olofsson. Say what you will about Brodin this year, he's a more reliable option than all of those players.

One thing that will be interesting in the coming weeks is we'll likely see Matt Dumba get an elevated role with this team. Dumba's been paired with Brodin for most of the season, and they've been a duo that's left quite a bit to be desired. Now he'll be with either Marco Scandella or Ryan Suter. Suter would be quite intriguing, as he has the strength and positional chops to let Dumba freelance more confidently than he could with Brodin. Suter and Dumba have also enjoyed success together- through Dumba's career, the duo has controlled 55.6% of shot attempts.

Also affected by Brodin's injury are the Wild's trade plans. They've been looking to acquire more offense, and their best trade chips were either Brodin or Dumba. It's hard to see Brodin getting traded while injured, and there's no way they'll move Dumba with Brodin also out. If the Wild try and make a trade, will it be through a forward on the roster? A draft pick? A prospect? Who knows?

The other huge news item is that the Mike Yeo announced that Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker are going to be healthy scratches tonight. It's a bit of a head-scratching move. Vanek and Zucker have indeed been slumping (along with the rest of the team), but they've also been put in a not-great position to succeed. They've been grouped on a line with Jarret Stoll, who doesn't really support either player offensively, nor is good at moving the puck up ice. Hard to score in that case.

Furthermore, while Vanek and Zucker haven't been productive as of late, over the course of this entire season, they've been the players who've done the best job in having a direct hand in goal-scoring.

So I don't know what's up. We'll see if these desperate scratches (that somehow elude Pominville, who's last on that list above) can work against the Blues.

Anyway, it's late, so let's hit the Tale of the Tape and Lineups for tonight.

Projected Lineups

Minnesota Wild

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Zach Parise

Mikko Koivu

Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter

Mikael "Not the problem" Granlund

Jason "Not the problem" Pominville

Ryan Carter

Tyler Graovac

Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter

Faceoff "Not the problem" Man

Erik Haula

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Ryan Suter

Jared Spurgeon

Christian Folin

Mathew Dumba

Marco Scandella

Nate Prosser

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

St. Louis Blues

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Scotty Upshall

Alex Steen

David "Puppy-Eater" Backes

Patrik Berglund

Paul Stastny

Terrorsenko

Robby Fabbri

Jori Lehtera

Troy Brouwer

Magnus Paajarvi

Kyle Brodziak

Dmitrij Jaskin

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester

Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson

Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson

Colton Parayko

Goalies

Brian Elliott

Phoenix Copley