MINNESOTA WILD AT VANCOUVER CANUCKS
9:00PM Central, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia
TV: Fox Sports-North
Radio: KFAN 100.3 and affiliates
Streaming: Fox Sports Go app
After an impressive couple of games at Xcel Energy Center earlier this week, it looks like the Wild is humming once again.
Something that’s a little concerning about the recent results, though, is the pattern in which they have occurred. Here’s what I mean… the Wild had a two-game homestand against San Jose and St. Louis to close out February. It won both contests, and hung a big number on the Blues, before going out on the road for back-to-back games. In those two road games, it lost to the league-worst Coyotes, then got smoked by Colorado. Next, Minnesota returned home to play Detroit and Carolina. It beat the Red Wings, though that was a closer game than the 4-1 score indicated, and then hung another big number on the Hurricanes. Now it heads back on the road for a similarly quick back-to-back road trip. Coincidence? Hopefully.
Bruce Boudreau has done a great job of quashing any negative storylines that have surfaced around this team all season, and avoiding a letdown after winning big is just the next one for him to eliminate from the narrative. A victory tonight in beautiful Vancouver would do just that.
If there has been one bright spot for the Vancouver Canucks this season, it was Burnsville’s own Brock Boeser, who exploded onto the NHL scene and notched a whopping 29 goals in 62 games as a rookie. But Boeser was injured in Monday’s 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders, when he tried to check Cal Clutterbuck in the neutral zone. Boeser bounced off of Clutterbuck and flew back-first into the open door on the Canucks bench. He crashed hard into the steel post that so dangerously becomes exposed when players change lines through the gates, and he then writhed on the ice for a bit before being helped to the dressing room and eventually rushed to the hospital.
Brock Boeser was hurt after a massive hit from Cal Clutterbuck late in the 3rd. Boeser's been taken to the hospital, let's hope for the best. Prayers up for ya bud, @BBoeser16. pic.twitter.com/SjStOUJixK— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 6, 2018
The official diagnosis was a soft tissue injury and a fracture in his lower back, though nothing was damaged structurally. This means Boeser will thankfully make a full recovery but is likely done for the season. Fortunately for him, he now will max out his rookie bonuses—based on points per game and a variety of other metrics—so he will take home an extra $850,000. That’s a decent payday for a 21-year-old kid, and a nice consolation prize for somebody who just found out his season is over.
Without having to worry about the high-scoring rookie (or a bevy of other injured Canucks for that matter), things get a little easier for Minnesota this evening, though Vancouver does still have young Bo Horvat in the lineup. Horvat has had another solid season and is closing in on 20 goals for the second year in a row, despite missing eighteen games with injury.
After a hot start to the season, the Canucks have fallen to second-to-last place in the Pacific, stumbling their way to an uninspiring 25-33-9 record. They have won both meetings with the Wild, though, so they still cannot be taken lightly, even with their lineup noticeably thinner than usual.
Many of Minnesota’s key veteran players seem to be firing right now, after long stretches of quiet offensive production. Zach Parise has points in six of his last seven games and goals in three of his past four, Mikko Koivu has seven points in his last five games, and Ryan Suter has four points in two games.
Meanwhile, the younger core players are cooking as well, with Mikael Granlund (who scored a hat trick in Vancouver last season) averaging 1.5 points per game over his last eight, Jason Zucker registering eight points in five, and even recent doghouse resident and injury-hampered Nino Niederreiter getting on the board last game. Oh, and by the way, Eric Staal has scored ten goals in eight games. Minnesota has recently been getting better balance in its scoring than it has seen all season. This is good timing, as it heads into the stretch run of its season, but that pattern will definitely need to carry into the playoffs, should the Wild have any hope of a deeper-than-usual run this year.
Yours truly will be in attendance at tonight’s game. I’ll be wearing a Wild jersey, so keep an eye out for me.
No Luke Kunin, who is out for the year. Nick Seeler is dealing with a biceps strain after punching Luke Witkowski in the face a lot of times, and also apparently has the flu, so he did not travel with the team.
In addition to Boeser, Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Chris Tanev, and Markus “the bad” Granlund are all out, per NHL.com.