Brett Bulmer To Make Season Debut Tonight Against Sharks

Mike Yeo said today that he needs someone to step up on the second line to get some scoring going. Besides Matt Cooke and a little Dany Heatley, most of MInnesota's goals in the past week and a half have came from the top line of Pominville, Parise and Koivu. Yeo will shake up the lineup a bit tonight as forward Brett Bulmer will make his season debut agaionst the San Jose Sharks.

The Wild brass have been praising Bulmer and his excellent play down in Iowa. In 21 games, he has 9 goals and 3 assists, with a minus 2 rating. Bulmer has good size and plays both sides of the puck really well. The Wild have been in a rut lately, unable to play a full 60 minute game, which has caused them to fall behind and have to play an uphill battle throughout the remainder of games. 

The Wild need to find a way to execute on the road. They have lost four straight away from St. Paul, getting outscored 12 to 3 in those four road losses. Josh Harding continues to be excellent between the pipes and continues to give the Wild a chance to win each game. Minnesota has averaged just 1.85 goals a game on the road and any hockey expert knows, that just doesn't cut it. Hopefully Bulmer can create a spark in that 2nd line tonight and maybe light a fire in the rest of the team.  

Wild Struggle, Lose to Columbus 4-0

After allowing just 19 shots to the Chicago Blackhawks last night, the Wild were outplayed, allowing 41 shots in a 4-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Wild were out hit, out skated, and were just out played tonight. The defense struggled to establish a back check, allowing handfuls off odd-man rushes. Two of the Jackets' 4 goals were scored on an odd man rush.

Yeo summed this game up perfectly: " This is one for the garbage. Worst game of the year", and I think I would have to agree with him. The Wild had very little life and could not establish time in the offensive zone. Minnesota had a 5 on 3 PP and managed zero shots on net. Koivu fed Zach Parise a perfect pass to a wide open net and Parise completely missed the puck. Torrey Mitchell also had a chance late in the third period and also fanned on a wide open net.

Minnesota heads back home tonight as they host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. The Sharks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, out scoring their opponents 40-14 in the first period. The Wild has struggled against playoff caliber teams this season and they have a big test this coming week as they face San Jose twice, Anaheim and Colorado.

Matt Cassel To Start Vs. Ravens On Sunday. Vikings QB Future Uncertain

According to the Vikings official twitter account, Christian Ponder has been ruled as unlikely for Sunday's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Head Coach Leslie Frazier said that Matt Cassel "Will more than likely start." The season is all but lost as the Vikings sit at the bottom of the NFC North with a 3-8-1 record, and the quarterback position in shambles. 

Matt Cassel has been the only somewhat reliable option for Minnesota this season. The acquisition of Josh Freeman was just one big mistake, and Christian Ponder has struggled to display any sort of consistency. Cassel has completed 63.6 percent of his passes, throwing for 857 yards and 5 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Cassel has a cannon of an arm and has the ability to read the field and throw the ball with authority. Minnesota fans have been wanting Cassel to start games this season and if he impresses on Sunday, he may have a chance to finish out the season as the starter. 

The future of all three Vikings quarterbacks are pretty uncertain at this point. All have struggled to display signs of a franchise quarterback, which is something the Vikings have lacked since the era of Brett Favre. It's hard to say if any of these guys will be starter next season, with many experts indicate the Vikings choosing a quarterback in the 2014 draft. Unless one of these three step up in a big way, I see the Vikings finding their franchise QB in the draft.    

Wild Top Defending Stanley Cup Champ Chicago Blackhawks 4-3

The Wild got contributions from everyone last night as they rallied late to take down the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-3 victory last night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Wild came out firing on all cylinders in the 1st period, outshooting the Hawks 8-7 and netting the only goal in the first period. After being held without a goal in 22 games, Matt Cooke scored his second goal in the last three games, putting the Wild up 1-0. Zach Parise notched his 7th power play goal of the game in the second, to make it 2-0

The Wild did a great job shutting down Jonathan Toews, as he was held to zero shots, and finished a -1 in 21:16 of ice time. Patrick Kane was also held at bay. He managed to pick up an assist but had no shots in 20:34 of ice time and was given zero space to work the puck to his teammates. 

The Wild were emphasizing the importance of offensive production from the blue line in practice this week, and the Wild's blue liners responded to the call. After the Wild allowed three unanswered goals and gave up the lead, Jonas Brodin tied it up in the third on the power play, which has struggled as of late. Marco Scandella scored the game winner with a beautiful, accurate shot from the point. Jared Spurgeon also got a pair of helpers on the night. 

Charlie Coyle had an excellent game. Assisted on the Scandella winning goal, set up a beautiful screen for the Brodin goal, and was great on the forecheck, keeping pucks in play and getting passes to the open man.

The Wild are currently in Columbus awaiting the 6 o'clock game against the Blue Jackets. Niklas Backstrom will likely get the start tonight since Harding went last night. Mike Yeo stressed the need for the team to not get too caught up, or emotional over this win. : " We don't have a lot of time to get too emotional about this one. It's a good win, but we have another test tomorrow." Minnesota is off to a nice 2-0 start this month, and have a good chance to win their third straight against a struggling Columbus Blue Jackets team. 

Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks Game Preview

Tonight the 16-8-5 Minnesota Wild host the 20-5-4 Stanley Cup Champ Chicago Blackhawks tonight. The Hawks are coming off of a 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars and the Wild are looking to put together another win streak after shutting out the Flyers 2-0 Monday night.

The third star of the month of November Josh Harding will get the start against Chicago and Corey Crawford will get the start for Chicago. This is the third meeting between these two teams this season, both teams earning one win.

The big thing for Minnesota heading into tonight's game is getting that first goal. The Wild have been near perfect when scoring the first goal and have struggled when they fall behind. The Wild needs to play a physical game. They played one of their more physical games Monday against Philly and basically shut down every part of their game.

Chicago is a tough team who has some brutal guys like Shaw, Bickel and Bollig who can make you pay in the physical game. The last key to tonight's game is shutting down Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane. Both have been killers against the Wild in their careers. In 25 regular season games, Kane has 8 goals and 17 points and in 20 regular season games, Toews has 6 goals and 19 points. If Minnesota can succeed in doing these three things, they have a great shot at winning this game and possibly moving to 3rd in the division.

Audie Cole Finding His Game In Recent Return to Vikings

One minute, linebacker Audie Cole was without a job. The next, he's being called up by the very team who released him. He was released on the 7th if November shortly before a Thursday night game against the Washington Redskins. He proceeded to watch the game at the home of injured Harrison Smith.

Cole said that moment in his young career was an NFL eye opener. The Vikings intended to bring him back if he wasn't claimed by another team by weeks' end. After Cole returned to the team, he was asked to start at middle linebacker in place of Erin Henderson, who couldn't play for personal reasons.

In his two starts since his return, Audie Cole has been a force to be reckoned with. He has recorded 15 solo tackles, 22 total tackles and 1 sack, including an 11 solo tackle performance against the Greenbay Packers.

Cole has greatly impressed the coaching staff of the Vikings and is making a case to be a more permanent starter in the near future. With the possibility of Erin Henderson not returning next season, Audie Cole may be in position to claim the starting job at middle linebacker. He has great size at 6' 5" 239 pounds and has great vision on the field. He's already proven to be a real weapon beside pro bowler Chad Greenway and can provide a great spark on the defensive squad.

Wild Get Back To Their Winning Ways, beating Flyers 2-0

The Wild finally look to be getting back to the team we saw earlier in the season as they shut out the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 2-0. The wild controlled the puck a majority of the game, forcing turnovers on the back check and sustained a constant pressure on the forecheck.

The game held zero points through the first two periods. Mike Rupp dropped the gloves with Flyers' Jay Rosehill three and a half minutes into the second. The Flyers came out strong in the opening minutes of the third, trying to take control of the game. Minnesota answered with a beautiful feed by Mikko Koivu to Jason Pominville for his 14th goal of the season. 57 seconds later, Charlie Coyle scored into an open net after goaltender Ray Emery coughed up a huge rebound off a Jared Spurgeon shot.

Minnesota's penalty kill was solid once again tonight, killing their only two penalties of the night, and even created some short handed chances. The Wild have killed 15-17 penalties in the past 7 games, nearing the top 20 in penalty kill percentage this season.

Harding was a stone wall once again, earning his third shutout of the season, improving to 11-1 at home this year with a 1.12 GAA and a .949 save percentage. The Wild are now just 1 point behind Colorado for third place in the Western conference. The Wild have another tough matchup on Thursday as they host the Chicago Blackhawks who are first in the western conference with 44 points.

Wild Update 10-12-13

Zucker Looking To Impress And Stay At NHL Level

With the recent injury to Charlie Coyle this past Saturday night, Jason Zucker will get an opportunity to make up for a poor training camp and preseason campaign. Zucker was beaten out of a job on the Wild's top 6 forward positions by youngsters Niño Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund. Coach Mike Yeo felt Zucker didn't belong on the 4th line or a healthy scratch, which forced them to send him to Iowa for the start of the season.

I didn't have a good enough camp and I take full blame for that and full responsibility." Said Zucker. " I have to be better. It's the NHL. You can't just come in and expect to be on a line or on the team. You've got to come and perform, and I didn't do that."

Zucker only had four goals in 20 NHL games last season but showed a lot of offensive potential. He'll be looking to make an instant impression on the Minnesota coaching staff. Zucker has to step up not just offensively, but on the defensive side as well if he wants to stay in Minnesota. He has to be good enough to convince Mike Yeo that he is better than a Mikael Granlund or Niño Niederreiter, who have both looked fantastic to start the year. We'll see how he performs tonight against Nashville.

Charlie Coyle To Miss 3-4 Weeks With Lower Body Injury

Charlie Coyle is set to miss the next 3-4 weeks with a lower body injury. According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Coyle suffered a sprained knee in the 2nd period during a home game against the Anaheim Ducks. After the check, Coyle heavily favored his left knee, trying not to put any weight on it as he skated straight to the bench. "It's not an ideal situation, but I'm fortunate it's nothing worse than it is," said Coyle on Sunday. "I'm going to keep a positive mindset, and I'm looking forward to recovering and doing everything I can to be healthy again."

With Coyle out, Mikael Granlund is set to move up from the 3rd line winger spot and take over the job at 2nd line center. Winger Jason Zucker was recalled back from Iowa and is likely to play on that 2nd line with Granlund and Heatley, which will move Niño Niederreiter to the third line. The Wild play in Nashville tomorrow night for their first road game of the season, looking to take their first win of the season as well.

In other news, I haven't blogged for nearly three months. I have been extremely busy with wedding planning and just recently getting married, settling down in our new home, and all that fun stuff. I will be writing again this season so be sure to keep checking in on my blog throughout the year.