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Wilderness Walk: Answering the Bell

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Wild/Penguins, Pittsburgh and Washington get feisty, and other NHL news and notes in the Walk.

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NHL: Minnesota Wild at Pittsburgh Penguins Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild head to Pittsburgh tonight, aiming to turn around yet another midseason swoon against a team that had a feisty night against the Washington Capitals last night:

With Matt Dumba still out (through at least the Christmas break, at last report) the Wild may have a hard time keeping up with the always dangerous Penguins and Sidney Crosby.

With as much “answering the bell” going on lately, fitting that we ask, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” as we prepare for our gameday walk...

Wild News

Wild's missed second chances adding up, causing players to tighten up - StarTribune.com
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on Wednesday noted the pressure players felt as the Wild racked up misfires Tuesday's shutout home loss to the Sharks.

Wild-Pittsburgh gameday preview - StarTribune.com
Pittsburgh will be on the second night of a back-to-back after traveling to defending Stanley Cup champion Washington on Wednesday.

Boudreau shuffling lines ahead of Pittsburgh - StarTribune.com
Hitting the road ahead of Thursday night's game against the Penguins, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau discussed some changes.

What's wrong with the slumping Minnesota Wild? - Bring Me The News
Minnesota has been the second-worst team in the NHL since Nov. 12.

Hot-and-cold Wild travel to face Penguins
For the Minnesota Wild, the goals have been coming in bunches and then barely coming at all. They are in the latter category lately.

Tending the Fields

Down on the Farm: Rookies lead Iowa resurgence
When Mason Shaw arrived last July for the Minnesota Wild development camp, he, like most rookies, had only one goal - make it to the next level.

On Frozen Pond

Gophers' Pannek chosen fourth overall by Whitecaps in NWHL draft - StarTribune.com
The Minnesota Whitecaps selected a pair of Minnesota-born forwards, the Gophers' Kelly Pannek and Wisconsin's Sophia Shaver, in the first two rounds of the National Women's Hockey League draft.

Off the Trail

The Kings need to start tearing down and trading Jeff Carter might be a good place to start - TheHockeyNews
If the Kings want to rebuild the franchise, they have to start somewhere. Jeff Carter could be the first to go, but Los Angeles might have to work with the veteran center in order to find a fit.

As Ovechkin chases Gretzky’s goals record, can any blueliner ever catch Bourque? - TheHockeyNews
Ray Bourque is the only defenseman in NHL history to score 400 goals and he's held the all-time goal scoring record for defenseman for nearly 20 years. Is it unbeatable?

Should the Boston Bruins Have Interest in Signing Patrik Berglund?
With the Buffalo Sabres looking to terminate the contract of forward Patrik Berglund, should the Boston Bruins have interest in signing the veteran center?

Khaira suspended two games for actions in Oilers game against Blues
NEW YORK -- Edmonton Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira has been suspended for two games, without pay, for cross-checking St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn during NHL Game No. 524 in Edmonton on Tuesday, Dec. 18, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

Klingberg to return for Stars against Blackhawks
John Klingberg could play for the Dallas Stars as early as Thursday, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Penguins end Capitals' five-game win streak - TSN.ca
The third meeting this season between longtime rivals Pittsburgh and Washington featured tight checking, strong goaltending and more than a few punches. The Penguins won 2-1 on Wednesday night, yet the Capitals appreciated the ferocity with which the game was played.

The NHL needs to do more to protect its stars
Earlier this week, Ken Hitchcock went on a bit of a rant about how the refs let other teams get away with hooking and holding Connor McDavid to an absurd extent.

Down Goes Brown: A look back at over 100 years of the NHL’s playoff format never making one damn bit of sense – The Athletic
It's the time of year when everyone begins to complain about the playoff format. But before you get your soap box ready, just know, it's been worse. Much, much worse.

Patrik Berglund walks away from $12.5 million as his rocky Buffalo Sabres tenure ends - CBSSports.com
Berglund, 30, has had his contract voided after failing to report to the team

Alex Ovechkin challenged Sidney Crosby to a fight Russian Machine Never Breaks
The relentlessly fun hockey site, hopelessly devoted to the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin. Our goal is to make hockey as fun about as it is to watch.