Surging Wild look to remain hot vs. ice-cold Avalanche (Dec 20, 2016)
It’s hard to find a hotter team in the NHL’s Western Conference than the Minnesota Wild.
Under coach Bruce Boudreau, the Wild have won seven in a row to improve to 18-8-4 on the season. No team in the NHL is allowing fewer goals per game than Minnesota (1.9), and only a handful of teams are scoring at a higher rate than the Wild’s 2.9 goals per game.
Tuesday’s opponent in St. Paul, Minn., is trending in the opposite direction. The Colorado Avalanche have lost three straight to drop to 11-18-1 on the season. The Avalanche are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Wild in terms of goals per game, allowing an NHL-worst 3.2.
Those numbers aside, the Avalanche are 2-0-0 so far this season against the Wild. Colorado topped Minnesota 1-0 on Nov. 5 and stole a 3-2 victory on the road 14 days later.
“They seem to play really good against us ,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “They’ve got some dynamic players, and when they’re all on top of their game, they’re really good.”
But things haven’t gone well as of late for the Avalanche. Since its latest win over Minnesota, Colorado has won just three times over a 13-game span. The glaring contest in that stretch was a 10-1 loss to Montreal on Dec. 10.
Now the Avalanche will try to get back on track against a Wild team that has only lost three times since falling to Colorado one month ago.
“You can’t worry about the past, especially when you’re going through something like this,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post. “You gotta get ready for the next game. Our group has done a good job of doing that. And then we come out to play the next night, but when things don’t go your way early or something ends up in the back of your net, you can see the frustration setting in for sure.”
Minnesota’s lineup may include a new face, as longtime minor leaguer Pat Cannone was recalled from the Iowa Wild. It’s the first time in his six-year minor league career that the 30-year-old Cannone has been recalled by an NHL team.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it,” Cannone told NHL.com. “You play for that, you work hard for that. It was a long time coming.”
Cannone was recalled after Erik Haula suffered a lower-body injury Saturday. Haula will not play Tuesday against Colorado.
The Avalanche will welcome back goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who missed the last three games with a groin injury. Varlamov is 6-12-0 with a 3.21 goals-against average in 18 starts in net this year.
“I’m feeling good. I’m ready to play (Tuesday),” Varlamov told NHL.com. “If you feel like you’re not ready or something’s bothering you like a past injury, you have to continue to do treatment and then make sure you’re ready 100 percent when you want to get back on the ice.”