XCel Energy Center; St. Paul, MN
8:00 p.m. ET; TSN4
Lutefisk Eaters: Hockey Wilderness
The Leafs, fresh off a 6-1 loss to Winnipeg, travel to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area- better known as America's Conjoined Twin- for a Thursday night matchup with the Wild. The Leafs are coming off their 398469849225th back-to-back of the season, but smartly mitigated the damage by electing not to play for the third period of last night's game. Bold coaching move by Babcock, but I like it!
Their opponent has a rich history with NHL hockey. Once upon a time, Minnesota had a team called the North Stars. They had a nice logo with cool green and yellow jerseys, and even made the Stanley Cup Final in the 1990s. Minnesota's team was the coolest. Alas, Minnesotans decided they'd rather watch Eriksen High defeat Eriksson High in D-3 high school hockey, so North Stars games were not well-attended. Consequently, the team moved to Dallas.
Minnesota would get another team in 2000, but it just wasn't the same. Remember the Goosebumps book where the father became weird and boring, because it turned out he was an impostor that was some sort of humanized plant? That's the Wild. The Wild are the boring stepdad your mom remarried who tries too hard to get you to like him but just lacks the personality. They're the off-brand cola of Minnesota hockey. Heck, their captain is the RC Cola of the Koivu family!
Did you know they haven't played the trap in years, yet are still inexplicably boring and offensively stifling? How do people watch this 82 times a year? They're a Bermuda Triangle in which fun, high-scoring players go to die. Has anyone heard from Thomas Vanek recently? What about Zach Parise? The NHL website says they play for this team, but I haven't seen evidence of it.
The Impostor North Stars are clinging to the second wildcard spot with a two-point lead over the Jets. They're winless in their last three home games.
Probable Leafs Lineup
Babcock confirms that the Leafs will roll the same lineup as last night, with one change: James Reimer gets his first start in net since his injury on November 24.
van Riemsdyk - Kadri - Komarov
Matthias - Bozak - Parenteau
Grabner - Spaling - Winnik
Holland - Froese - Boyes
Gardiner - Phaneuf
Hunwick - Rielly
Marincin - Polak
Probable Minnesota Lineup
Per Daily Faceoff, updated Dec. 1:
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter
Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter - Erik Haula - Ryan Carter
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Nate Prosser - Matthew Dumba
Low-event game that you'll watch flipping channels between it, another hockey game, Thursday Night Football, and...I unno, what replaced Friends on Thursday nights?