Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
The Minnesota Wild are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the New Jersey Devils in which they squandered both an early 2-0 lead as well as a late 3-2 lead, starting their four-game homestand on an rather poor note. The Wild will look to have a better result tonight against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Coyotes are a team that, admittedly, Minnesota should beat, given the teams are a drastically different ends of the Western Conference.
Minnesota currently boasts 61 points and is tied for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Coyotes meanwhile have struggled this season, earning just 32 total points to date, second-fewest in the entire NHL.
Arizona enters tonight's contest having lost their past three games, their most recent being a 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night. The Coyotes did have a brief 2-1 lead over the Jets in that game before Winnipeg scored five unanswered goals to take the win.
Minnesota will be without defenseman Jonas Brodin tonight as he will be out for at least the next four weeks with a fractured finger that he suffered in the team's loss to New Jersey. Despite recalling defenseman Mike Reilly from Iowa on Thursday morning, it is expected that Nate Prosser will fill in for the injured Brodin.
"One of the reasons he got sent down [to Iowa] was to build the confidence," Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said of Reilly on Thursday morning after the team's practice. "There is always pressure on a guy when he's getting called up because he wants to do well to stay in the NHL...He isn't going to play tonight. We want him to be Mike Reilly when he plays."
Prosser meanwhile is ready to take the bulk of the minutes having already played in 17 games this season, though mostly in a injury replacement role.
"You never hope for an injury," Prosser said Wednesday. "It's a bummer that [Brodin] went down, I just got to be ready to go. After last night we gotta find our groove again right from the drop of the puck."
Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk will face his former team once again and look to continue Minnesota's recent run of success against Arizona.
In their last 12 meetings with the Coyotes, the Wild are 9-1-2 and that includes a current nine-game point streak.
Boudreau reiterated on Thursday morning that his team would need to play a full 60 minutes should they hope to defeat Arizona tonight, something they have struggled to do in the past.
"The losses we've had - two in the last ten - have come when we've made mistakes but for a short period of time and it wasn't a 60 minute game it was for 40 or 50 minutes," Boudreau said. "For instance I thought we played 45 really good minutes [against the Devils] and 15 bad minutes and it cost us and we'll try to avoid those 15 bad minutes tonight."