Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, during a press conference last season said that the Vikings match-ups with the Green Bay Packers could not be considered a rivalry because the Packers beat them too much. Can the same be said now about the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks?
Yes, Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau is once again taking on his former team for the third and final time tonight in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center and although many want to label the match-up a rivalry due to Boudreau's ties to both teams, the Ducks have yet to beat their former coach this season.
The Wild are 2-0-0 against Anaheim this season by scores of 2-1 and 5-3, respectively, meaning Minnesota can claim the season-sweep with a win tonight.
Minnesota still holds the top-spot in the Western Conference with 80 points, five points ahead of the second-place Chicago Blackhawks, and a win tonight against the Ducks would only pad that lead (the Blackhawks don't play again until Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers).
Speaking of the Oilers, they are hot on the Ducks trail for the fourth spot in the Western Conference and the Ducks will need a big win tonight against Minnesota if they hope to not only maintain their lead over Edmonton but also gain ground on the 'Big 3' teams in the West (Minnesota, Chicago, San Jose).
The Wild will be without Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin tonight, the latter of which was placed on Injured-Reserve Monday, putting additional pressure on the remaining defensemen as well as All-Star goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
Dubnyk enters tonight's game leading the NHL in almost every key goaltending statistic including wins (31), goals allowed per game (1.99) and save percentage (.933) but will face a challenge tonight as the Ducks enter having scored 10 goals in their last three games despite picking up only one win in those three.
As good as the Ducks have been at scoring, the Wild have been even better.
Minnesota enters tonight having scored five or more goals in four of their last eight games. That is one of the best scoring rates in the league, one that is usually aided by playing on their home ice where the Wild are 19-6-1 thus far and outscoring their opponents 92-54 this season.
The puck drops tonight at 7:08 P.M. CST and can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM.