|6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 19, 2019
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota Attendance: 19,054
Rask set to debut for Wild against Blue Jackets
The Minnesota Wild, smack dab in the heart of the battles for the third place in the Central Division standings and a wild card spot, are hardly in the selloff territory.
Yet, with expectations to be more than just a middling team, the desire for a shakeup is understandable. The newest acquisition, forward Victor Rask, is expected to make his Wild debut when the club plays host to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
"He's a kid that I've watched since his draft year," general manager Paul Fenton said.
"He could be a (number) two or a three centerman; he has the capability of playing the wing as well. My experience tells me, you can't have enough centers. It's something that we're finding out in the league more and more."
The Wild likely will have Rask -- who was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Nino Niederreiter -- in the middle on the third line, between Zach Parise and Pontus Aberg against Columbus. Aberg was the return from the Anaheim Ducks for minor leaguer Justin Kloos.
Rask, 25, comes to the Wild with just one goal and six points in 26 games this season for the Hurricanes. He posted career highs of 21 goals and 48 points in the 2015-16 campaign.
Minnesota (23-21-3) is coming off a 3-0 loss to the Ducks on Thursday, which has the club on a 1-3-0 slide. The players are sensing the urgency.
"You never want to be in that position where you're putting yourself in a spot where they have to make that decision, and all of a sudden you have to start getting rid of players," Parise said. "It's a tough spot to be in, and I just hope that we can rebound and climb ourselves back in."
To make any form of a climb, though, the Wild will need to find the consistency that has been sorely lacking since mid-November.
"We've seen fluctuations in the way that we play," Fenton said.
"We had the stretch in the beginning where we were lights out, and I thought, 'Wow this team is a lot better than we anticipated.' And then we hit a couple of bumps in the road and had a roller coaster ride a little bit.
"We're looking for consistency. For me, when you make changes like this, it shows players that nothing is forever. It gives them an alert that if they want to be here, they're going to have to play and play the way that we want them to play and be successful."
The Blue Jackets (28-16-3) arrive in Minnesota after a 4-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night, which snapped a four-game winning streak as they dropped from the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Despite the loss, the Blue Jackets were looking forward, instead of lamenting a defeat.
"We did some good things. It was a tight game. We'll take this into Minnesota tomorrow," said defenseman Seth Jones.
Columbus did have some good news with veteran forward Brandon Dubinsky back in the lineup after missing four games due to a hamstring injury.
It is likely goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will mind the net for just the second time since being disciplined after he showered and got dressed in his suit after being pulled from the net, instead of returning to the bench to serve as the backup.
"Every season brings some challenges," said Bobrovsky, who wouldn't divulge if he was to play against the Wild. "There will be tough times, there will be fun times. It's a long season. It's a marathon and there (are) ups and downs. Lots of them. It's important how you handle them."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 19, 2019