Tuesday, January 9, 2012 at 7:30pm EST at Excel Energy Center
San Jose Sharks (23-11-4: 50 points, 3rd in Western Conference
Minnesota Wild (21-15-6: 48 points, T-8th in Western Conference
Big day for story lines today, folks. Matt Cullen will play in his 1,000th NHL game tonight. Cullen will become the seventh Minnesota-born player to play in 1,000 NHL games. who has posted 523 points (191-332=523) over his 14 NHL seasons in Anaheim, Florida, Carolina, the New York Rangers, Ottawa and Minnesota. Cullen's skating was the big question when he signed his first NHL deal. Now it's his strength. Cullen decided as a youngster that every summer he'd improve in one area. First was skating then came stick-handling, quickness, and faceoffs. Now Cullen is one of those players which every team needs on their team, one who does everything well.
Peter Laviolette was one of the biggest influences on Cullen's career. Cullen signed with Carolina.In 2005-06 Cullen set career highs with 25 goals and 49 points, and won a Stanley Cup.
"He believed in me," Cullen said of Laviolette. "He expected a lot out of me. I can still hear him saying this: 'Cully, be dynamic.' I'd never heard anything like that before. I loved every day playing there.
Brett Burns also returns tonight to Saint Paul for the first time since being traded to the Sharks. This would not be such a big deal if it were, Burns is one of the most popular and was certainly one of the players that no one ever thought would be gone. In the last meeting between the Wild and Sharks, it was Burns who delivered a hit on Setoguchi prompting him to miss the next 12 games with a lower body injury.
Terrible news today for the Wild, Pierre-Marc Bouchard is out with "concussion-like symptoms" and has been placed on the IR with Guillaume Latendresse. The last time Bouchard had a concussion, we didn't see him for an entire season or much of the first half of the next. Will we see Bouchard ever play again? Bouchard is just one of those players that is difficult to replace.
The Wild need a big win tonight. Prediction 3-1 Wild