The Minnesota Wild will face the first-place Washington Capitals on Friday without starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk, according to coach John Torchetti.
While it’s possible that Darcy Kuemper would have taken the start against Washington anyhow, since it’s the second night of a back-to-back, Dubnyk will be scratched entirely with Niklas Backstrom backing up Kuemper.
His absence is being called a “maintenance” situation, following being run into by Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek, who is also injured.
The collision left Dubnyk on the ice in pain, but he finished the game.
— CJ Fogler 6'7" IQ 269 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) February 26, 2016
Torchetti isn’t “overly concerned” with Dubnyk’s situation, which makes it sound, as he says, like maintenance rather than a situation where they expect him to miss Sunday’s game against Florida.
Playoff Hopes Fading
After Torchetti took over as coach the Wild won four straight and rekindled their playoff hopes.
But they have now lost two in a row and are four points back of eighth place Colorado with two games in hand. They’re seven points back of seventh place Nashville, with just a single game in hand. With each successive loss the gap gets larger and it’s tough to see how they can overcome the odds for a third straight season where they’ve gone through a massive midseason swoon.
That makes Friday’s game yet another must-win, with just days before the trade deadline and their playoff hopes dwindling.
The Wild don’t have a ton of UFA pieces that they’d be looking to ship off, but a loss Friday may change how general manager Chuck Fletcher views the trade deadline on Feb. 29. The odds will be getting longer and they’re currently playing without the services of Dubnyk, Zach Parise, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin.
That’s an important group of players, particularly when they are struggling to make up ground.
In other moves before Friday’s game, sophomore defenseman Christian Folin will be scratched and Nate Prosser will draw back into the lineup, reports the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.