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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Wild, Wednesday 11-25

Come Thursday, the Bruins will hopefully be thankful for an undefeated 4-0 road trip, a trip that ends tonight when they skate at the XCEL Energy Center in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild.

Minnesota (8-12-2) currently occupies the cellar of the Western Conference, but they are coming off a win in their most recent game, a 3-2 victory Friday over the Islanders. The Wild have struggled against fellow Western Conference foes, going 3-11-0 so far, but have seen relative success against Eastern Conference opponents, putting up a 5-1-2 record. The Wild are 8-1-0 in their brief history against Boston, including a two-game sweep of the Bruins last season.

Now let’s shine the light on tonight’s opponent with some news nuggets about the Minnesota Wild…

  • Minnesota’s leader of average ice time per game, defenseman Brent Burns, will miss tonight’s game as he recovers from a recent concussion. However, the Wild will get former Bruin Chuck Kobasew back in their lineup this evening. Kobasew had missed the last four games with an upper body injury. Kobasew was acquired by the Wild in an October trade that sent wingers Craig Weller, Alex Fallstrom, and a 2011 2nd-round pick Boston’s way.
  • The Wild also made roster shake-ups earlier this week, as they sent disappointing forward Benoit Pouliot to the Canadiens in exchange for sizable winger Guillaume Latendresse. Latendresse will not dress for tonight’s matchup however, as his work visa issues are yet to be resolved crossing the border.
  • Leading the way on the Wild offense is Mikko Koivu (6G, 15A), followed by Andrew Brunette (8G, 9A), and captain Eric Belanger (4G, 10A). Last year’s team leader, Marian Gaborik, fled Minnesota via free agency, signing with the Rangers on a long-term deal.
  • In net for Minnesota is young Finn Niklas Backstrom (8-9-2, 2.66GAA). Backstrom is backed up by Josh Harding (0-3-0, 3.92GAA). It is likely the Bruins will face Backstrom tonight, judging by early reports.
  • Beyond Kobasew, two other familiar faces will be in uniform for the Wild this evening as former Bruins Shane Hnidy and Andy Hilbert both could be featured in the Minnesota lineup. Hnidy spent the last season and a half with Boston before signing with the Wild in the offseason, while Hilbert, a former 2nd-round pick of Boston’s in 2000, played 38 games for Boston between 2001 and 2004 before heading to the Islanders.

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